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Title: Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific
Author: Franchere, Gabriel, 1786-1863
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Transcriber's Note: Because this is a personal narrative,
inconsistencies in spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, and
italicization have been preserved in cases where it is not clearly an
error from the original printing.]

[Illustration: ASTORIA, AS IT WAS IN 1813.]


IN THE YEARS 1811, 1812, 1813, AND 1814







Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and
for the Southern District of New York.


In 1846, when the boundary question (that of the Oregon Territory in
particular) was at its height, the Hon. THOMAS H. BENTON delivered in
the United States Senate a decisive speech, of which the following is an

"Now for the proof of all I have said. I happen to have in my possession
the book of all others, which gives the fullest and most authentic
details on all the points I have mentioned--a book written at a time,
and under circumstances, when the author (himself a British subject and
familiar on the Columbia) had no more idea that the British would lay
claim to that river, than Mr. Harmon, the American writer whom I
quoted, ever thought of our claiming New Caledonia. It is the work of
Mr. FRANCHERE, a gentleman of Montreal, with whom I have the pleasure to
be personally acquainted, and one of those employed by Mr. ASTOR in
founding his colony. He was at the founding of ASTORIA, at its sale to
the Northwest Company, saw the place seized as a British conquest, and
continued there after its seizure. He wrote in French: his work has not
been done into English, though it well deserves it; and I read from the
French text. He gives a brief and true account of the discovery of the

I felt justly proud of this notice of my unpretending work, especially
that the latter should have contributed, as it did, to the amicable
settlement of the then pending difficulties. I have flattered myself
ever since, that it belonged to the historical literature of the great
country, which by adoption has become mine.

The re-perusal of "Astoria" by WASHINGTON IRVING (1836) inspired me with
an additional motive for giving my book in an English dress. Without
disparagement to Mr. IRVING'S literary, fame, I may venture to say that
I found in his work inaccuracies, misstatements (unintentional of
course), and a want of chronological order, which struck forcibly one so
familiar with the events themselves. I thought I could show--or rather
that my simple narration, of itself, plainly discovered--that some of
the young men embarked in that expedition (which founded our Pacific
empire), did not merit the ridicule and contempt which Captain THORN
attempted to throw upon them, and which perhaps, through the genius of
Mr. IRVING, might otherwise remain as a lasting stigma on their

But the consideration which, before all others, prompts me to offer this
narrative to the American reading public, is my desire to place before
them, therein, a simple and connected account (which at this time ought
to be interesting), of the early settlement of the Oregon Territory by
one of our adopted citizens, the enterprising merchant JOHN JACOB ASTOR.
The importance of a vast territory, which at no distant day may add two
more bright stars to our national banner, is a guarantee that my humble
effort will be appreciated.

       *       *       *       *       *


It has been the editor's wish to let Mr. Franchere speak for himself. To
preserve in the translation the Defoe-like simplicity of the original
narrative of the young French Canadian, has been his chief care. Having
read many narratives of travel and adventure in our northwestern
wilderness, he may be permitted to say that he has met with none that
gives a more vivid and picturesque description of it, or in which the
personal adventures of the narrator, and the varying fortunes of a great
enterprise, mingle more happily, and one may say, more dramatically,
with the itinerary. The clerkly minuteness of the details is not
without its charm either, and their fidelity speaks for itself. Take it
altogether, it must be regarded as a fragment of our colonial history
saved from oblivion; it fills up a vacuity which Mr. IRVING'S classic
work does not quite supply; it is, in fact, the only account by an
eye-witness and a participator in the enterprise, of the first attempt
to form a settlement on the Pacific under the stars and stripes.

The editor has thought it would be interesting to add Mr. Franchere's
Preface to the original French edition, which will be found on the next

BALTIMORE, _February 6, 1854_.


When I was writing my journal on the vessel which carried me to the
northwest coast of North America, or in the wild regions of this
continent, I was far from thinking that it would be placed one day
before the public eye. I had no other end in writing, but to procure to
my family and my friends a more exact and more connected detail of what
I had seen or learned in the course of my travels, than it would have
been possible for me to give them in a _viva voce_ narration. Since my
return to my native city, my manuscript has passed into various hands
and has been read by different persons: several of my friends
immediately advised me to print it; but it is only quite lately that I
have allowed myself to be persuaded, that without being a learned
naturalist, a skilful geographer, or a profound moralist, a traveller
may yet interest by the faithful and succinct account of the situations
in which he has found himself, the adventures which have happened to
him, and the incidents of which he has been a witness; that if a simple
ingenuous narrative, stripped of the merit of science and the graces of
diction, must needs be less enjoyed by the man of letters or by the
_savant_, it would have, in compensation, the advantage of being at the
level of a greater number of readers; in fine, that the desire of
affording an entertainment to his countrymen, according to his capacity,
and without any mixture of the author's vanity or of pecuniary interest,
would be a well-founded title to their indulgence. Whether I have done
well or ill in yielding to these suggestions, which I am bound to regard
as those of friendship, or of good-will, it belongs to the impartial and
disinterested reader, to decide.




Departure from Montreal.--Arrival in New York.--Description of
that City.--Names of the Persons engaged in the Expedition.


Departure from New York.--Reflections of the Author.--Navigation,
falling in with other Ships, and various Incidents, till the Vessel
comes in Sight of the Falkland Isles.


Arrival at the Falkland Isles.--Landing.--Perilous Situation of the
Author and some of his Companions.--Portrait of Captain Thorn.--Cape
Horn.--Navigation to the Sandwich Islands.


Accident.--View of the Coast.--Attempted Visit of the Natives.--Their
Industry.--Bay of Karaka-koua.--Landing on the Island.--John Young,
Governor of Owahee.


Bay of Ohetity.--Tamehameha, King of the Island.--His Visit to the
Ship.--His Capital.--His Naval Force.--His Authority.--Productions of
the Country.--Manners and Customs.--Reflections.


Departure from Wahoo.--Storm.--Arrival at the Mouth of the
Columbia.--Reckless Order of the Captain.--Difficulty of the
Entrance.--Perilous Situation of the Ship.--Unhappy Fate of a Part
of the Crew and People of the Expedition.


Regrets of the Author at the Loss of his Companions.--Obsequies
of a Sandwich-Islander.--First Steps in the Formation of the intended
Establishment.--New Alarm.--Encampment.


Voyage up the River.--Description of the Country.--Meeting with
strange Indians.


Departure of the Tonquin.--Indian Messengers.--Project of an Expedition
to the Interior.--Arrival of Mr. Daniel Thompson.--Departure of the
Expedition.--Designs upon us by the Natives.--Rumors of the Destruction
of the Tonquin.--Scarcity of Provisions.--Narrative of a strange
Indian.--Duplicity and Cunning of Comcomly.


Occupation at Astoria.--Return of a Portion of the Men of the
Expedition to the Interior.--New Expedition.--Excursion in Search
of three Deserters.


Departure of Mr. R. Stuart for the Interior.--Occupations at
Astoria.--Arrival of Messrs. Donald M'Kenzie and Robert
M'Lellan.--Account of their Journey.--Arrival of Mr. Wilson P. Hunt.


Arrival of the Ship Beaver.--Unexpected Return of Messrs. D. Stuart,
B. Stuart, M'Lelland, &c.--Cause of that Return.--Ship discharging.--New
Expeditions.--Hostile Attitude of the Natives.--Departure of the
Beaver.--Journeys of the Author.--His Occupations at the Establishment.


Uneasiness respecting the "Beaver."--News of the Declaration of
War between Great Britain and the United States.--Consequences
of that Intelligence.--Different Occurrences.--Arrival of two
Canoes of the Northwest Company.--Preparations for abandoning the
Country.--Postponement of Departure.--Arrangement-with Mr. J.G. M'Tavish.


Arrival of the Ship "Albatross."--Reasons for the Non-Appearance of
the Beaver at Astoria.--Fruitless Attempt of Captain Smith on a Former
Occasion.--Astonishment and Regret of Mr. Hunt at the Resolution of
the Partners.--His Departure.--Narrative of the Destruction of the
Tonquin.--Causes of that Disaster.--Reflections.


Arrival of a Number of Canoes of the Northwest Company.--Sale of the
Establishment at Astoria to that Company.--Canadian News.--Arrival of
the British Sloop-of-War "Raccoon."--Accident on Board that Vessel.--The
Captain takes Formal Possession of Astoria.--Surprise and Discontent of
the Officers And Crew.--Departure of the "Raccoon."


Expeditions to the Interior.--Return of Messrs. John Stuart and
D. M'Kenzie.--Theft committed by the Natives.--War Party against
the Thieves.


Description of Tongue Point.--A Trip to the _Willamet_.--Arrival
of W. Hunt in the Brig Pedlar.--Narrative of the Loss of the Ship
Lark.--Preparations for crossing the Continent.


Situation of the Columbia River.--Qualities of its Soil.--Climate,
&c.--Vegetable and Animal Productions of the Country.


Manners, Customs, Occupations, &c., of the Natives on the River Columbia.


Manners and Customs of the Natives continued.--Their Wars.--Their
Marriages.--Medicine Men.--Funeral Ceremonies.--Religious


Departure from Astoria Or Fort George.--Accident.--Passage of
the Dalles or Narrows.--Great Columbian Desert.--Aspect of the
Country.--Wallawalla and Sha-aptin Rivers.--Rattlesnakes.--Some
Details regarding the Natives of the Upper Columbia.


Meeting with the Widow of a Hunter.--Her Narrative.--Reflections of
the Author.--Priest's Rapid.--River Okenakan.--Kettle Falls.--Pine
Moss.--Scarcity of Food.--Rivers, Lakes, &c.--Accident.--A
Rencontre.--First View of the Rocky Mountains.


Course of the Columbian River.--Canoe River.--Foot-march toward the
Rocky Mountains.--Passage of the Mountains.


Arrival at the Fort of the Mountains.--Description of this
Post.--Some Details in Regard to the Rocky Mountains.--Mountain Sheep,
&c.--Continuation of the Journey.--Unhappy Accident.--Reflections.--News
from Canada.--Hunter's Lodge.--Pembina and Red Deer Rivers.


Red Deer Lake.--Antoine Déjarlais.--Beaver River.--N. Nadeau.--Moose
River.--Bridge Lake.--Saskatchawine River.--Fort Vermilion.--Mr.
Hallet.--Trading-Houses.--Beautiful Country.--Reflections.


Fort Montée.--Cumberland House.--Lake Bourbon.--Great Winipeg
Rapids.--Lake Winipeg.--Trading-House.--Lake of the Woods.--Rainy
Lake House, &c.


Arrival at Fort William.--Description of that Post--News from the
River Columbia.


Departure from Fort William.--Navigation on Lake Superior.--Michipicoton
Bay.--Meeting a Canoe.--Batchawainon Bay.--Arrival at Saut Ste.
Marie.--Occurrences there.--Departure.--Lake Huron.--French
River.--Lake Nipissing.--Ottawa River.--Kettle Falls.--Rideau
River.--Long-Saut.--Arrival in Montreal.--Conclusion.


Present State of the Countries visited by the Author.--Correction of
Mr. Irving's Statements respecting St. Louis.


Mr. Seton's Adventures.--Survivors of the Expedition in
1851.--Author's Protest against some Expressions in Mr. Irving's
"Astoria."--Editor's Note.


Since the independence of the United States of America, the merchants of
that industrious and enterprising nation have carried on an extremely
advantageous commerce on the northwest coast of this continent. In the
course of their voyages they have made a great number of discoveries
which they have not thought proper to make public; no doubt to avoid
competition in a lucrative business.

In 1792, Captain Gray, commanding the ship Columbia of Boston,
discovered in latitude 46° 19" north, the entrance of a great bay on the
Pacific coast. He sailed into it, and having perceived that it was the
outlet or estuary of a large river, by the fresh water which he found
at a little distance from the entrance, he continued his course upward
some eighteen miles, and dropped anchor on the left bank, at the opening
of a deep bay. There he made a map or rough sketch of what he had seen
of this river (accompanied by a written description of the soundings,
bearings, &c.); and having finished his traffic with the natives (the
object of his voyage to these parts), he put out to sea, and soon after
fell in with Captain Vancouver, who was cruising by order of the British
government, to seek new discoveries. Mr. Gray acquainted him with the
one he had just made, and even gave him a copy of the chart he had drawn
up. Vancouver, who had just driven off a colony of Spaniards established
on the coast, under the command of Señor Quadra (England and Spain being
then at war), despatched his first-lieutenant Broughton, who ascended
the river in boats some one hundred and twenty or one hundred and fifty
miles, took possession of the country in the name of his Britannic
majesty, giving the river the name of the _Columbia_, and to the bay
where the American captain stopped, that of _Gray's bay_. Since that
period the country had been seldom visited (till 1811), and chiefly by
American ships.

Sir Alexander McKenzie, in his second overland voyage, tried to reach
the western ocean by the Columbia river, and thought he had succeeded
when he came out six degrees farther north, at the bottom of Puget's
sound, by another river.[A] In 1805, the American government sent
Captains Lewis and Clark, with about thirty men, including some Kentucky
hunters, on an overland journey to the mouth of the Columbia. They
ascended the Missouri, crossed the mountains at the source of that
river, and following the course of the Columbia, reached the shores of
the Pacific, where they were forced to winter. The report which they
made of their expedition to the United States government created a
lively sensation.[B]

[Footnote A: McKenzie's Travels.]

[Footnote B: Lewis and Clark's Report.]

Mr. John Jacob Astor, a New York merchant, who conducted almost alone
the trade in furs south of the great lakes Huron and Superior, and who
had acquired by that commerce a prodigious fortune, thought to augment
it by forming on the banks of the Columbia an establishment of which the
principal or supply factory should be at the mouth of that river. He
communicated his views to the agents of the Northwest Company; he was
even desirous of forming the proposed establishment in concert with
them; but after some negotiations, the inland or wintering partners of
that association of fur-traders having rejected the plan, Mr. Astor
determined to make the attempt alone. He needed for the success of his
enterprise, men long versed in the Indian trade, and he soon found them.
Mr. Alexander M'Kay (the same who had accompanied Sir Alexander M'Kenzie
in his travels overland), a bold and enterprising man, left the
Northwest Company to join him; and soon after, Messrs Duncan M'Dougal
and Donald M'Kenzie (also in the service of the company) and Messrs.
David Stuart and Robert Stuart, all of Canada, did the same. At length,
in the winter of 1810, a Mr. Wilson Price Hunt of St. Louis, on the
Mississippi, having also joined them, they determined that the
expedition should be set on foot in the following spring.

It was in the course of that winter that one of my friends made me
acquainted in confidence with the plan of these gentlemen, under the
injunction of strictest secrecy. The desire of seeing strange countries,
joined to that of acquiring a fortune, determined me to solicit
employment of the new association; on the 20th of May I had an interview
with Mr. A. M'Kay, with whom the preliminaries were arranged; and on the
24th of the same month I signed an agreement as an apprenticed clerk for
the term of five years.

When the associates had engaged a sufficient number of Canadian boatmen,
they equipped a bark canoe under charge of Messrs. Hunt and M'Kenzie,
with a Mr. Perrault as clerk, and a crew of fourteen men. These
gentlemen were to proceed to Mackinaw, and thence to St. Louis, hiring
on the way as many men as they could to man the canoes, in which, from
the last-mentioned port, they were to ascend the Missouri to its source,
and there diverging from the route followed by Lewis and Clark, reach
the mouth of the Columbia to form a junction with another party, who
were to go round by way of Cape Horn. In the course of my narrative I
shall have occasion to speak of the success of both these expeditions.



     Departure from Montreal.--Arrival in New York.--Description of that
     City.--Names of the Persons engaged in the Expedition.

We remained in Montreal the rest of the spring and a part of the summer.
At last, having completed our arrangements for the journey, we received
orders to proceed, and on the 26th of July, accompanied by my father and
brothers and a few friends, I repaired to the place of embarkation,
where was prepared a birch bark canoe, manned by nine Canadians, having
Mr. A. M'Kay as commander, and a Mr. A. Fisher as passenger. The
sentiments which I experienced at that moment would be as difficult for
me to describe as they were painful to support; for the first time in my
life I quitted the place of my birth, and was separated from beloved
parents and intimate friends, having for my whole consolation the faint
hope of seeing them again. We embarked at about five, P.M., and arrived
at La Prairie de la Madeleine (on the opposite side of the St.
Lawrence), toward eight o'clock.[C] We slept at this village, and the
next morning, very early, having secured the canoe on a wagon, we got in
motion again, and reached St. John's on the river Richelieu, a little
before noon. Here we relaunched our canoe (after having well calked the
seams), crossed or rather traversed the length of Lake Champlain, and
arrived at Whitehall on the 30th. There we were overtaken by Mr. Ovid de
Montigny, and a Mr. P.D. Jeremie, who were to be of the expedition.

[Footnote C: This place is famous in the history of Canada, and more
particularly in the thrilling story of the Indian missions.--ED.]

Having again placed our canoe on a wagon, we pursued our journey, and
arrived on the 1st of August at Lansingburg, a little village situated
on the bank of the river Hudson. Here we got our canoe once more afloat,
passed by Troy, and by Albany, everywhere hospitably received, our
Canadian boatmen, having their hats decorated with parti-colored ribands
and feathers, being taken by the Americans for so many wild Indians, and
arrived at New York on the 3d, at eleven o'clock in the evening.

We had landed at the north end of the city, and the next day, being
Sunday, we re-embarked, and were obliged to make a course round the
city, in order to arrive at our lodgings on Long Island. We sang as we
rowed; which, joined to the unusual sight of a birch bark canoe impelled
by nine stout Canadians, dark as Indians, and as gayly adorned,
attracted a crowd upon the wharves to gaze at us as we glided along. We
found on Long Island (in the village of Brooklyn) those young gentlemen
engaged in the service of the new company, who had left Canada in
advance of our party.

The vessel in which we were to sail not being ready, I should have found
myself quite isolated and a stranger in the great city of New York, but
for a letter of introduction to Mr. G----, given me on my setting out,
by Madame his sister. I had formed the acquaintance of this gentleman
during a stay which he had made at Montreal in 1801; but as I was then
very young, he would probably have had some difficulty in recognising me
without his sister's letter. He introduced me to several of his friends,
and I passed in an agreeable manner the five weeks which elapsed between
my arrival in New York and the departure of the ship.

I shall not undertake to describe New York; I will only say, that the
elegance of the buildings, public and private, the cleanliness of the
streets, the shade of the poplars which border them, the public walks,
the markets always abundantly provided with all sorts of commodities,
the activity of its commerce, then in a flourishing condition, the vast
number of ships of all nations which crowded the quays; all, in a word,
conspired to make me feel the difference between this great maritime
city and my native town, of whose steeples I had never lost sight
before, and which was by no means at that time what it is now.

New York was not then, and indeed is not at this time a fortified town;
still there were several batteries and military works, the most
considerable of which were seen on the _Narrows_, or channel which forms
the principal mouth of the Hudson. The isles called _Governor's Island_,
and _Bedloe_ or _Gibbet Island_, were also well fortified. On the first,
situated to the west of the city and about a mile from it, there were
barracks sufficiently capacious for several thousand soldiers, and a
Moro, or castle, with three tiers of guns, all bomb-proof. These works
have been strengthened during the last war.

The market-places are eight in number; the most considerable is called

The _Park_, the _Battery_, and _Vauxhall Garden_, are the principal
promenades. There were, in 1810, thirty-two churches, two of which were
devoted to the catholic worship; and the population was estimated at
ninety thousand souls, of whom ten thousand were French. It is thought
that this population has since been augmented (1819) by some thirty
thousand souls.

During my sojourn at New York, I lodged in Brooklyn, on Long Island.
This island is separated from the city by a sound, or narrow arm of the
sea. There is here a pretty village, not far from which is a basin,
where some gun-boats were hauled up, and a few war vessels were on the
stocks. Some barracks had been constructed here, and a guard was

Before leaving New York, it is well to observe that during our stay in
that city, Mr. M'Kay thought it the part of prudence to have an
interview with the minister plenipotentiary of his Britannic majesty,
Mr. Jackson,[D] to inform him of the object of our voyage, and get his
views in regard to the line of conduct we ought to follow in case of war
breaking out between the two powers; intimating to him that we were all
British subjects, and were about to trade under the American flag. After
some moments of reflection Mr. Jackson told him, "that we were going on
a very hazardous enterprise; that he saw our object was purely
commercial, and that all he could promise us, was, that in case of a war
we should be respected as British subjects and traders."

[Footnote D: This gentleman was really _chargé d'affaires_.]

This reply appeared satisfactory, and Mr. M'Kay thought we had nothing
to apprehend on that side.

The vessel in which we were to sail was called the _Tonquin_, of about
300 tons burden, commanded by Captain Thorn (a first-lieutenant of the
American navy, on furlough for this purpose), with a crew of twenty-one
men. The number of passengers was thirty-three. Here follow the names of


               { Messrs. Alexander M'Kay   }
               {   "     Duncan M'Dougall, }
     PARTNERS  {   "     David Stuart,     }  all of Canada.
               {   "     Robert Stuart,    }

             { James Lewis of New York,
             { Russel Farnham of Massachusetts,
             { William W. Matthews of New York,
             { Alexander Boss,    }
             { Donald M'Gillis,   }
     CLERKS  { Ovide de Montigny, }
             { Francis B. Pillet, } all from Canada.
             { Donald M'Lennan,   }
             { William Wallace,   }
             { Thomas McKay,      }
             { Gabriel Franchere, }

               { Oliver Roy Lapensée,    Joseph Lapierre,
               { Ignace Lapensée,        Joseph Nadeau,
     BOATMEN,  { Basile Lapensée,        J. B'te. Belleau,
     ETC.      { Jacques Lafantaisie,    Antoine Belleau,
               { Benjamin Roussel,       Louis Bruslé,
               { Michel Laframboise,     P.D. Jeremie,
               { Giles Leclerc,          all of Canada.

     Johann Koaster, ship-carpenter, a Russian,
     George Bell, cooper, New York,
     Job Aitken, rigger and calker, from Scotland,
     Augustus Roussil, blacksmith, Canada,
     Guilleaume Perreault, a boy. These last were all
         mechanics, &c., destined for the establishment.


     Jonathan Thorn, captain, New York State.
     Ebenezer D. Fox, 1st mate, of Boston.
     John M. Mumford, 2d mate, of Massachusetts.
     James Thorn, brother of the captain, New York.
     John Anderson, boatswain, foreigner.
     Egbert Vanderhuff, tailor, New York.
     John Weeks, carpenter,         "
     Stephen Weeks, armorer,        "
     John Coles, New York,     }
     John Martin, a Frenchman, }  sailmakers.

               { John White, New York.
               { Adam Fisher,   "
               { Peter Verbel,  "
     SAILORS.  { Edward Aymes,  "
               { Robert Hill, Albany, New York.
               { John Adams,    "
               { Joseph Johnson, Englishman,
               { Charles Roberts, New York,
     A colored man as cook,
     A mulatto steward,
     And three or four others whose names I have forgotten.


     Departure from New York.--Reflections of the Author.--Navigation,
     falling in with other Ships, and various Incidents, till the Vessel
     comes in Sight of the Falkland Isles.

All being ready for our departure, we went on board ship, and weighed
anchor on the 6th of September, in the morning. The wind soon fell off,
and the first day was spent in drifting down to Staten island, where we
came to anchor for the night. The next day we weighed anchor again; but
there came on another dead calm, and we were forced to cast anchor near
the lighthouse at Sandy Hook. On the 8th we weighed anchor for the third
time, and by the help of a fresh breeze from the southwest, we succeeded
in passing the bar; the pilot quitted us at about eleven o'clock, and
soon after we lost sight of the coast.

One must have experienced it one's self, to be able to conceive the
melancholy which takes possession of the soul of a man of sensibility,
at the instant that he leaves his country and the civilized world, to go
to inhabit with strangers in wild and unknown lands. I should in vain
endeavor to give my readers an idea, even faintly correct, of the
painful sinking of heart that I suddenly felt, and of the sad glance
which I involuntarily cast toward a future so much the more frightful to
me, as it offered nothing but what was perfectly confused and uncertain.
A new scene of life was unfolded before me, but how monotonous, and ill
suited to diminish the dejection with which my mind was overwhelmed! For
the first time in my life, I found myself under way upon the main sea,
with nothing to fix my regards and arrest my attention but the frail
machine which bore me between the abyss of waters and the immensity of
the skies. I remained for a long time with my eyes fixed in the
direction of that land which I no longer saw, and almost despaired of
ever seeing again; I made serious reflections on the nature and
consequences of the enterprise in which I had so rashly embarked; and I
confess that if at that moment the offer had been made to release me
from my engagement, I should have accepted the proposal with all my
heart. It is true that the hopeless confusion and incumberment of the
vessel's deck, the great number of strangers among whom I found myself,
the brutal style which the captain and his subalterns used toward our
young Canadians; all, in a word, conspired to make me augur a vexatious
and disagreeable voyage. The sequel will show that I did not deceive
myself in that.

We perceived very soon in the S.W., which was our weather-side, a vessel
that bore directly toward us; she made a signal that was understood by
our captain; we hove to, and stood on her bow. It turned out to be the
American frigate _Constitution_. We sent our boat on board of her, and
sailed in company till toward five o'clock, when, our papers having been
sent back to us, we separated.

The wind having increased, the motion of the vessel made us sea-sick,
those of us, I mean, who were for the first time at sea. The weather was
fine, however; the vessel, which at first sailing was lumbered in such a
manner that we could hardly get in or out of our berths, and scarcely
work ship, by little and little got into order, so that we soon found
ourselves more at ease.

On the 14th we commenced to take flying fish. The 24th, we saw a great
quantity of dolphins. We prepared lines and took two of the latter,
which we cooked. The flesh of this fish appeared to me excellent.

After leaving New York, till the 4th of October, we headed southeast. On
that day we struck the trade winds, and bore S.S.E.; being, according to
our observations, in latitude 17° 43" and longitude 22° 39".

On the 5th, in the morning, we came in sight of the Cape-Verd islands,
bearing W.N.W., and distant about eight or nine miles, having the coast
of Africa to the E.S.E. We should have been very glad to touch at these
islands to take in water; but as our vessel was an American bottom, and
had on board a number of British subjects, our captain did not think fit
to expose himself to meet the English ships-of-war cruising on these
coasts, who certainly would not have failed to make a strict search, and
to take from us the best part of our crew; which would infallibly have
proved disastrous to the object for which we had shipped them.

Speaking of water, I may mention that the rule was to serve it out in
rations of a quart a day; but that we were now reduced to a pint and a
half. For the rest, our fare consisted of fourteen ounces of hard bread,
a pound and a quarter of salt beef or one of pork, per day, and half a
pint of souchong tea, with sugar, per man. The pork and beef were served
alternately: rice and beans, each once a week; corn-meal pudding with
molasses, ditto; on Sundays the steerage passengers were allowed a
bottle of Teneriffe wine. All except the four partners, Mr. Lewis,
acting as captain's clerk, and Mr. T. M'Kay, were in the steerage; the
cabin containing but six berths, besides the captain's and first-mate's

As long as we were near the coast of Africa, we had light and variable
winds, and extremely hot weather; on the 8th, we had a dead calm, and
saw several sharks round the vessel; we took one which we ate. I found
the taste to resemble sturgeon. We experienced on that day an excessive
heat, the mercury being at 94° of Fahrenheit. From the 8th to the 11th
we had on board a canary bird, which we treated with the greatest care
and kindness, but which nevertheless quitted us, probably for a certain

The nearer we approached to the equator the more we perceived the heat
to increase: on the 16th, in latitude 6°, longitude 22° west from
Greenwich, the mercury stood at 108°. We discovered on that day a sail
bearing down upon us. The next morning she reappeared, and approached
within gun-shot. She was a large brig, carrying about twenty guns: we
sailed in company all day by a good breeze, all sail spread; but toward
evening she dropped astern and altered her course to the S.S.E.

On the 18th, at daybreak, the watch alarmed us by announcing that the
same brig which had followed us the day before, was under our lee, a
cable's length off, and seemed desirous of knowing who we were, without
showing her own colors. Our captain appeared to be in some alarm; and
admitting that she was a better sailer than we, he called all the
passengers and crew on deck, the drum beat to quarters, and we feigned
to make preparations for combat.

It is well to observe that our vessel mounted ten pieces of cannon, and
was pierced for twenty; the forward port-holes were adorned with sham
guns. Whether it was our formidable appearance or no, at about ten A.M.
the stranger again changed her course, and we soon lost sight of her

Nothing further remarkable occurred to us till the 22d, when we passed
the line in longitude 25° 9". According to an ancient custom the crew
baptized those of their number who had never before crossed the
equator; it was a holyday for them on board. About two o'clock in the
afternoon we perceived a sail in the S.S.W. We were not a little
alarmed, believing that it was the same brig which we had seen some days
before; for it was lying to, as if awaiting our approach. We soon drew
near, and to our great joy discovered that she was a Portuguese; we
hailed her, and learned that she came from some part of South America,
and was bound to Pernambuco, on the coasts of Brazil. Very soon after we
began to see what navigators call the _Clouds of Magellan_: they are
three little white spots that one perceives in the sky almost as soon as
one passes the equator: they were situated in the S.S.W.

The 1st November, we began to see great numbers of aquatic birds. Toward
three o'clock P.M., we discovered a sail on our larboard, but did not
approach sufficiently near to speak her. The 3d, we saw two more sails,
making to the S.E. We passed the tropic of Capricorn on the 4th, with a
fine breeze, and in longitude 33° 27". We lost the trade-winds, and as
we advanced south the weather became cold and rainy. The 11th, we had a
calm, although the swell was heavy. We saw several turtles, and the
captain having sent out the small boat, we captured two of them. During
the night of the 11th and 12th, the wind changed to the N.E., and raised
a terrible tempest, in which the gale, the rain, the lightning, and
thunder, seemed to have sworn our destruction; the sea appeared all
a-fire, while our little vessel was the sport of winds and waves. We
kept the hatches closed, which did not prevent us from passing very
uncomfortable nights while the storm lasted; for the great heats that we
had experienced between the tropics, had so opened the seams of the deck
that every time the waves passed over, the water rushed down in
quantities upon our hammocks. The 14th, the wind shifted to the S.S.W.,
which compelled us to beat to windward. During the night we were struck
by a tremendous sea; the helm was seized beyond control, and the man at
the wheel was thrown from one side of the ship to the other, breaking
two of his ribs, which confined him to his berth for a week.

In latitude 35° 19", longitude 40°, the sea appeared to be covered with
marine plants, and the change that we observed in the color of the
water, as well as the immense number of gulls and other aquatic birds
that we saw, proved to us that we were not far from the mouth of the
_Rio de la Plata_. The wind continued to blow furiously till the 21st,
when it subsided a little, and the weather cleared up. On the 25th,
being in the 46th degree, and 30 minutes of latitude, we saw a penguin.

We began to feel sensibly the want of water: since passing the tropic of
Capricorn the daily allowance had been always diminishing, till we were
reduced to three gills a day, a slender modicum considering that we had
only salt provisions. We had indeed a still, which we used to render the
sea-water drinkable; but we distilled merely what sufficed for the daily
use of the kitchen, as to do more would have required a great quantity
of wood or coal. As we were not more than one hundred and fifty leagues
from the Falkland isles, we determined to put in there and endeavor to
replenish our casks, and the captain caused the anchors to be got ready.

We had contrary winds from the 27th of November to the 3d December. On
the evening of that day, we heard one of the officers, who was at the
mast head, cry "Land! Land!" Nevertheless, the night coming on, and the
barren rocks which we had before us being little elevated above the
ocean, we hove to.


     Arrival at the Falkland Isles.--Landing.--Perilous Situation of the
     Author and some of his Companions.--Portrait of Captain
     Thorn.--Cape Horn.--Navigation to the Sandwich Islands.

On the 4th (Dec.) in the morning, I was not the last to mount on deck,
to feast my eyes with the sight of land; for it is only those who have
been three or four months at sea, who know how to appreciate the
pleasure which one then feels even at sight of such barren and bristling
rocks as form the Falkland Isles. We drew near these rocks very soon,
and entered between two of the islands, where we anchored on a good
ground. The first mate being sent ashore to look for water, several of
our gentlemen accompanied him. They returned in the evening with the
disappointing intelligence that they had not been able to find fresh
water. They brought us, to compensate for this, a number of wild geese
and two seals.

The weather appearing to threaten, we weighed anchor and put out to sea.
The night was tempestuous, and in the morning of the 5th we had lost
sight of the first islands. The wind blowing off land, it was necessary
to beat up all that day; in the evening we found ourselves sufficiently
near the shore, and hove to for the night. The 6th brought us a clear
sky, and with a fresh breeze we succeeded in gaining a good anchorage,
which we took to be Port Egmont, and where we found good water.

On the 7th, we sent ashore the water casks, as well as the cooper to
superintend filling them, and the blacksmiths who were occupied in some
repairs required by the ship. For our part, having erected a tent near
the springs, we passed the time while they were taking in water, in
coursing over the isles: we had a boat for our accommodation, and killed
every day a great many wild geese and ducks. These birds differ in
plumage from those which are seen in Canada. We also killed a great
many seals. These animals ordinarily keep upon the rocks. We also saw
several foxes of the species called _Virginia_ fox: they were shy and
yet fierce, barking like dogs and then flying precipitately. Penguins
are also numerous on the Falkland Isles. These birds have a fine
plumage, and resemble the loon: but they do not fly, having only little
stumps of wings which they use to help themselves in waddling along. The
rocks were covered with them. It being their sitting season we found
them on their nests, from which they would not stir. They are not wild
or timid: far from flying at our approach, they attacked us with their
bill, which is very sharp, and with their short wings. The flesh of the
penguin is black and leathery, with a strong fishy taste, and one must
be very hungry to make up one's mind to eat it. We got a great quantity
of eggs by dislodging them from their nests.

As the French and English had both attempted to form establishments on
these rocks, we endeavored to find some vestige of them; the tracks
which we met everywhere made us hope to find goats also: but all our
researches were vain: all that we discovered was an old fishing cabin,
constructed of whale bone, and some seal-skin moccasins; for these rocks
offer not a single tree to the view, and are frequented solely by the
vessels which pursue the whale fishery in the southern seas. We found,
however, two head-boards with inscriptions in English, marking the spot
where two men had been interred: as the letters were nearly obliterated,
we carved new ones on fresh pieces of board procured from the ship. This
pious attention to two dead men nearly proved fatal to a greater number
of the living; for all the casks having been filled and sent on board,
the captain gave orders to re-embark, and without troubling himself to
inquire if this order had been executed or not, caused the anchor to be
weighed on the morning of the 11th, while I and some of my companions
were engaged in erecting the inscriptions of which I have spoken, others
were cutting grass for the hogs, and Messrs M'Dougall and D. Stuart had
gone to the south side of the isle to look for game. The roaring of the
sea against the rock-bound shore prevented them from hearing the gun,
and they did not rejoin us till the vessel was already at sea. We then
lost no time, but pushed off, being eight in number, with our little
boat, only twenty feet keel. We rowed with all our might, but gained
nothing upon the vessel. We were losing sight of the islands at last,
and our case seemed desperate. While we paused, and were debating what
course to pursue, as we had no compass, we observed the ship tacking and
standing toward us. In fine after rowing for three hours and a half, in
an excited state of feeling not easily described, we succeeded in
regaining the vessel, and were taken on board at about three o'clock

Having related this trait of malice on the part of our captain, I shall
be permitted to make some remarks on his character. Jonathan Thorn was
brought up in the naval service of his country, and had distinguished
himself in a battle fought between the Americans and the Turks at
Tripoli, some years before: he held the rank of first lieutenant. He
was a strict disciplinarian, of a quick and passionate temper,
accustomed to exact obedience, considering nothing but duty, and giving
himself no trouble about the murmurs of his crew, taking counsel of
nobody, and following Mr. Astor's instructions to the letter. Such was
the man who had been selected to command our ship. His haughty manners,
his rough and overbearing disposition, had lost him the affection of
most of the crew and of all the passengers: he knew it, and in
consequence sought every opportunity to mortify us. It is true that the
passengers had some reason to reproach themselves; they were not free
from blame; but he had been the aggressor; and nothing could excuse the
act of cruelty and barbarity of which he was guilty, in intending to
leave us upon those barren rocks of the Falkland isles, where we must
inevitably have perished. This lot was reserved for us, but for the bold
interference of Mr. B. Stuart, whose uncle was of our party, and who,
seeing that the captain, far from waiting for us, coolly continued his
course, threatened to blow his brains out unless he hove to and took us
on board.

_Boat and five passengers pulling after Ship Tonquin._]

We pursued our course, bearing S.S.W., and on the 14th, in latitude 54°
1', longitude 64° 18', we found bottom at sixty-five fathoms, and saw a
sail to the south. On the 15th, in the morning, we discovered before us
the high mountains of _Terra del fuego_, which we continued to see till
evening: the weather then thickened, and we lost sight of them. We
encountered a furious storm which drove us to the 56th degree and 18' of
latitude. On the 18th, we were only fifteen leagues from Cape Horn. A
dead calm followed, but the current carried us within sight of the cape,
five or six leagues distant. This cape, which forms the southern
extremity of the American continent, has always been an object of terror
to the navigators who have to pass from one sea to the other; several of
whom to avoid doubling it, have exposed themselves to the long and
dangerous passage of the straits of Magellan, especially when about
entering the Pacific ocean. When we saw ourselves under the stupendous
rocks of the cape, we felt no other desire but to get away from them as
soon as possible, so little agreeable were those rocks to the view, even
in the case of people who had been some months at sea! And by the help
of a land breeze we succeeded in gaining an offing. While becalmed here,
we measured the velocity of the current setting east, which we found to
be about three miles an hour.

The wind soon changed again to the S.S.W., and blew a gale. We had to
beat. We passed in sight of the islands of Diego Ramirez, and saw a
large schooner under their lee. The distance that we had run from New
York, was about 9,165 miles. We had frightful weather till the 24th,
when we found ourselves in 58° 16' of south latitude. Although it was
the height of summer in that hemisphere, and the days as long as they
are at Quebec on the 21st of June (we could read on deck at midnight
without artificial light), the cold was nevertheless very great and the
air very humid: the mercury for several days was but fourteen degrees
above freezing point, by Fahrenheit's thermometer. If such is the
temperature in these latitudes at the end of December, corresponding to
our June, what must it be in the shortest days of the year, and where
can the Patagonians then take refuge, and the inhabitants of the islands
so improperly named the Land of Fire!

The wind, which till the 24th had been contrary, hauled round to the
south, and we ran westward. The next day being Christmas, we had the
satisfaction to learn by our noon-day observation that we had weathered
the cape, and were, consequently, now in the Pacific ocean. Up to that
date we had but one man attacked with scurvy, a malady to which those
who make long voyages are subject, and which is occasioned by the
constant use of salt provisions, by the humidity of the vessel, and the

From the 25th of December till the 1st of January, we were favored with
a fair wind and ran eighteen degrees to the north in that short space of
time. Though cold yet, the weather was nevertheless very agreeable. On
the 17th, in latitude 10° S., and longitude 110° 50' W., we took
several _bonitas_, an excellent fish. We passed the equator on the 23d,
in 128° 14' of west longitude. A great many porpoises came round the
vessel. On the 25th arose a tempest which lasted till the 28th. The wind
then shifted to the E.S.E. and carried us two hundred and twenty-four
miles on our course in twenty-four hours. Then we had several days of
contrary winds; on the 8th of February it hauled to the S.E., and on the
11th we saw the peak of a mountain covered with snow, which the first
mate, who was familiar with these seas, told me was the summit of
_Mona-Roah_, a high mountain on the island of _Ohehy_, one of those
which the circumnavigator Cook named the Sandwich Isles, and where he
met his death in 1779. We headed to the land all day, and although we
made eight or nine knots an hour, it was not till evening that we were
near enough to distinguish the huts of the islanders: which is
sufficient to prove the prodigious elevation of _Mona Roah_ above the
level of the sea.


     Accident.--View of the Coast.--Attempted Visit of the
     Natives.--Their Industry.--Bay of Karaka-koua.--Landing on the
     Island.--John Young, Governor of Owahee.

We were ranging along the coast with the aid of a fine breeze, when the
boy Perrault, who had mounted the fore-rigging to enjoy the scenery,
lost his hold, and being to windward where the shrouds were taut,
rebounded from them like a ball some twenty feet from the ship's side
into the ocean. We perceived his fall and threw over to him chairs,
barrels, benches, hen-coops, in a word everything we could lay hands on;
then the captain gave the orders to heave to; in the twinkling of an eye
the lashings of one of the quarter-boats were cut apart, the boat
lowered and manned: by this time the boy was considerably a-stern. He
would have been lost undoubtedly but for a wide pair of canvass
overalls full of tar and grease, which operated like a life-preserver.
His head, however, was under when he was picked up, and he was brought
on board lifeless, about a quarter of an hour after he fell into the
sea. We succeeded, notwithstanding, in a short time, in bringing him to,
and in a few hours he was able to run upon the deck.

The coast of the island, viewed from the sea, offers the most
picturesque _coup d'oeil_ and the loveliest prospect; from the beach to
the mountains the land rises amphitheatrically, all along which is a
border of lower country covered with cocoa-trees and bananas, through
the thick foliage whereof you perceive the huts of the islanders; the
valleys which divide the hills that lie beyond appear well cultivated,
and the mountains themselves, though extremely high, are covered with
wood to their summits, except those few peaks which glitter with
perpetual snow.

As we ran along the coast, some canoes left the beach and came
alongside, with vegetables and cocoa-nuts; but as we wished to profit
by the breeze to gain the anchorage, we did not think fit to stop. We
coasted along during a part of the night; but a calm came on which
lasted till the morrow. As we were opposite the bay of Karaka-koua, the
natives came out again, in greater numbers, bringing us cabbages, yams,
_taro_, bananas, bread-fruit, water-melons, poultry, &c., for which we
traded in the way of exchange. Toward evening, by the aid of a sea
breeze that rose as day declined, we got inside the harbor where we
anchored on a coral bottom in fourteen fathoms water.

The next day the islanders visited the vessel in great numbers all day
long, bringing, as on the day before, fruits, vegetables, and some pigs,
in exchange for which we gave them glass beads, iron rings, needles,
cotton cloth, &c.

Some of our gentlemen went ashore and were astonished to find a native
occupied in building a small sloop of about thirty tons: the tools of
which he made use consisted of a half worn-out axe, an adze, about
two-inch blade, made out of a paring chisel, a saw, and an iron rod
which he heated red hot and made it serve the purpose of an auger. It
required no little patience and dexterity to achieve anything with such
instruments: he was apparently not deficient in these qualities, for his
work was tolerably well advanced. Our people took him on board with
them, and we supplied him with suitable tools, for which he appeared
extremely grateful.

On the 14th, in the morning, while the ship's carpenter was engaged in
replacing one of the cat-heads, two composition sheaves fell into the
sea; as we had no others on board, the captain proposed to the
islanders, who are excellent swimmers, to dive for them, promising a
reward; and immediately two offered themselves. They plunged several
times, and each time brought up shells as a proof that they had been to
the bottom. We had the curiosity to hold our watches while they dove,
and were astonished to find that they remained four minutes under the
water. That exertion appeared to me, however, to fatigue them a great
deal, to such a degree that the blood streamed from their nostrils and
ears. At last one of them brought up the sheaves and received the
promised recompense, which consisted of four yards of cotton.

Karaka-koua bay where we lay, may be three quarters of a mile deep, and
a mile and a half wide at the entrance: the latter is formed by two low
points of rock which appear to have run down from the mountains in the
form of lava, after a volcanic eruption. On each point is situated a
village of moderate size; that is to say, a small group of the low huts
of the islanders. The bottom of the bay terminates in a bold
_escarpment_ of rock, some four hundred feet high, on the top of which
is seen a solitary cocoa-tree.

On the evening of the 14th, I went ashore with some other passengers,
and we landed at the group of cabins on the western point, of those
which I have described. The inhabitants entertained us with a dance
executed by nineteen young women and one man, all singing together, and
in pretty good time. An old man showed us the spot where Captain Cook
was killed, on the 14th of February, 1779, with the cocoa-nut trees
pierced by the balls from the boats which the unfortunate navigator
commanded. This old man, whether it were feigned or real sensibility,
seemed extremely affected and even shed tears, in showing us these
objects. As for me, I could not help finding it a little singular to be
thus, by mere chance, upon this spot, on the 14th of February, 1811;
that is to say, thirty-two years after, on the anniversary of the
catastrophe which has rendered it for ever celebrated. I drew no
sinister augury from the coincidence, however, and returned to the ship
with my companions as gay as I left it. When I say with my companions, I
ought to except the boatswain, John Anderson, who, having had several
altercations with the captain on the passage, now deserted the ship,
preferring to live with the natives rather than obey any longer so
uncourteous a superior. A sailor also deserted; but the islanders
brought him back, at the request of the captain. They offered to bring
back Anderson, but the captain preferred leaving him behind.

We found no good water near Karaka-koua bay: what the natives brought us
in gourds was brackish. We were also in great want of fresh meat, but
could not obtain it: the king of these islands having expressly
forbidden his subjects to supply any to the vessels which touched there.
One of the chiefs sent a canoe to Tohehigh bay, to get from the governor
of the island, who resided there, permission to sell us some pigs. The
messengers returned the next day, and brought us a letter, in which the
governor ordered us to proceed without delay to the isle of Wahoo, where
the king lives; assuring us that we should there find good water and
everything else we needed.

We got under way on the 16th and with a light wind coasted the island as
far as Tohehigh bay. The wind then dropping away entirely, the captain,
accompanied by Messrs. M'Kay and M'Dougall, went ashore, to pay a visit
to the governor aforesaid. He was not a native, but a Scotchman named
John Young, who came hither some years after the death of Captain Cook.
This man had married a native woman, and had so gained the friendship
and confidence of the king, as to be raised to the rank of chief and
after the conquest of Wahoo by King Tamehameha, was made governor of
Owhyhee (Hawaii) the most considerable of the Sandwich Islands, both by
its extent and population. His excellency explained to our gentlemen the
reason why the king had interdicted the trade in hogs to the inhabitants
of all the islands: this reason being that his majesty wished to reserve
to himself the monopoly of that branch of commerce, for the augmentation
of his royal revenue by its exclusive profits. The governor also
informed them that no rain had fallen on the south part of Hawaii for
three years; which explained why we found so little fresh water: he
added that the north part of the island was more fertile than the south,
where we were: but that there was no good anchorage: that part of the
coast being defended by sunken rocks which form heavy breakers. In fine,
the governor dismissed our gentlemen with a present of four fine fat
hogs; and we, in return, sent him some tea, coffee, and chocolate, and
a keg of Madeira wine.

The night was nearly a perfect calm, and on the 17th we found ourselves
abreast of _Mona-Wororayea_ a snow-capped mountain, like _Mona-Roah_,
but which appeared to me less lofty than the latter. A number of
islanders came to visit us as before, with some objects of curiosity,
and some small fresh fish. The wind rising on the 18th, we soon passed
the western extremity of Hawaii, and sailed by Mowhee and Tahooraha, two
more islands of this group, and said to be, like the rest, thickly
inhabited. The first presents a highly picturesque aspect, being
composed of hills rising in the shape of a sugar loaf and completely
covered with cocoa-nut and bread-fruit trees.

At last, on the 21st, we approached Wahoo, and came to anchor opposite
the bay of _Ohetity_, outside the bar, at a distance of some two miles
from the land.


     Bay of Ohetity.--Tamehameha, King of the Islands.--His Visit to the
     Ship.--His Capital.--His Naval Force.--His Authority.--Productions
     of the Country.--Manners and Customs.--Reflections.

There is no good anchorage in the bay of Ohetity, inside the bar or
coral reef: the holding-ground is bad: so that, in case of a storm, the
safety of the ship would have been endangered. Moreover, with a contrary
wind, it would have been difficult to get out of the inner harbor; for
which reasons, our captain preferred to remain in the road. For the
rest, the country surrounding the bay is even more lovely in aspect than
that of Karaka-koua; the mountains rise to a less elevation in the
back-ground, and the soil has an appearance of greater fertility.

_Tamehameha_, whom all the Sandwich Isles obeyed when we were there in
1811, was neither the son nor the relative of Tierroboo, who reigned in
Owhyhee (Hawaii) in 1779, when Captain Cook and some of his people were
massacred. He was, at that date, but a chief of moderate power; but,
being skilful, intriguing, and full of ambition, he succeeded in gaining
a numerous party, and finally possessed himself of the sovereignty. As
soon as he saw himself master of Owhyhee, his native island, he
meditated the conquest of the leeward islands, and in a few years he
accomplished it. He even passed into _Atoudy_, the most remote of all,
and vanquished the ruler of it, but contented himself with imposing on
him an annual tribute. He had fixed his residence at Wahoo, because of
all the Sandwich Isles it was the most fertile, the most picturesque--in
a word, the most worthy of the residence of the sovereign.

As soon as we arrived, we were visited by a canoe manned by three white
men, Davis and Wadsworth, Americans, and Manini, a Spaniard. The last
offered to be our interpreter during our stay; which was agreed to.
Tamehameha presently sent to us his prime-minister, _Kraimoku_, to whom
the Americans have given the name of _Pitt_, on account of his skill in
the affairs of government. Our captain, accompanied by some of our
gentlemen, went ashore immediately, to be presented to Tamehameha. About
four o'clock, P.M., we saw them returning, accompanied by a double
pirogue conveying the king and his suite. We ran up our colors, and
received his majesty with a salute of four guns.

Tamehameha was above the middle height, well made, robust and inclined
to corpulency, and had a majestic carriage. He appeared to me from fifty
to sixty years old. He was clothed in the European style, and wore a
sword. He walked a long time on the deck, asking explanations in regard
to those things which he had not seen on other vessels, and which were
found on ours. A thing which appeared to surprise him, was to see that
we could render the water of the sea fresh, by means of the still
attached to our caboose; he could not imagine how that could be done.
We invited him into the cabin, and, having regaled him with some glasses
of wine, began to talk of business matters: we offered him merchandise
in exchange for hogs, but were not able to conclude the bargain that
day. His majesty re-embarked in his double pirogue, at about six o'clock
in the evening. It was manned by twenty-four men. A great chest,
containing firearms, was lashed over the centre of the two canoes
forming the pirogue; and it was there that Tamehameha sat, with his
prime-minister at his side.

In the morning, on the 22d, we sent our water-casks ashore and filled
them with excellent water. At about noon his sable majesty paid us
another visit, accompanied by his three wives and his favorite minister.
These females were of an extraordinary corpulence, and of unmeasured
size. They were dressed in the fashion of the country, having nothing
but a piece of _tapa_, or bark-cloth, about two yards long, passed round
the hips and falling to the knees. We resumed the negotiations of the
day before, and were more successful. I remarked that when the bargain
was concluded, he insisted with great pertinacity that part of the
payment should be in Spanish dollars. We asked the reason, and he made
answer that he wished to buy a frigate of his brother, King George,
meaning the king of England. The bargain concluded, we prayed his
majesty and his suite to dine with us; they consented, and toward
evening retired, apparently well satisfied with their visit and our
reception of them.

In the meantime, the natives surrounded the ship in great numbers, with
hundreds of canoes, offering us their goods, in the shape of eatables
and the rude manufactures of the island, in exchange for merchandise;
but, as they had also brought intoxicating liquors in gourds, some of
the crew got drunk; the captain was, consequently, obliged to suspend
the trade, and forbade any one to traffic with the islanders, except
through the first-mate, who was intrusted with that business.

I landed on the 22d, with Messrs. Pillet and M'Gillis: we passed the
night ashore, spending that day and the next morning in rambling over
the environs of the bay, followed by a crowd of men, women, and

Ohetity, where Tamehameha resides, and which, consequently, may be
regarded as the capital of his kingdom, is--or at least was at that
time--a moderate-sized city, or rather a large village. Besides the
private houses, of which there were perhaps two hundred, constructed of
poles planted in the ground and covered over with matting, there were
the royal palace, which was not magnificent by any means: a public
store, of two stories, one of stone and the other of wood; two _morais_,
or idol temples, and a wharf. At the latter we found an old vessel, the
_Lady Bird_, which some American navigators had given in exchange for a
schooner; it was the only large vessel which King Tamehameha possessed;
and, besides, was worth nothing. As for schooners he had forty of them,
of from twenty to thirty tons burthen: these vessels served to transport
the tributes in kind paid by his vassals in the other islands. Before
the Europeans arrived among these savages, the latter had no means of
communication between one isle and another, but their canoes, and as
some of the islands are not in sight of each other, these voyages must
have been dangerous. Near the palace I found an Indian from Bombay,
occupied in making a twelve inch cable, for the use of the ship which I
have described.

Tamehameha kept constantly round his house a guard of twenty-four men.
These soldiers wore, by way of uniform, a long blue coat with yellow;
and each was armed with a musket. In front of the house, on an open
square, were placed fourteen four-pounders, mounted on their carriages.

The king was absolute, and judged in person the differences between his
subjects. We had an opportunity of witnessing a proof of it, the day
after our landing. A Portuguese having had a quarrel with a native, who
was intoxicated, struck him: immediately the friends of the latter, who
had been the aggressor after all, gathered in a crowd to beat down the
poor foreigner with stones; he fled as fast as he could to the house of
the king, followed by a mob of enraged natives, who nevertheless stopped
at some distance from the guards, while the Portuguese, all breathless,
crouched in a corner. We were on the esplanade in front of the palace
royal, and curiosity to see the trial led us into the presence of his
majesty, who having caused the quarrel to be explained to him, and heard
the witnesses on both sides, condemned the native to work four days in
the garden of the Portuguese and to give him a hog. A young Frenchman
from Bordeaux, preceptor of the king's sons, whom he taught to read, and
who understood the language, acted as interpreter to the Portuguese, and
explained to us the sentence. I can not say whether our presence
influenced the decision, or whether, under other circumstances, the
Portuguese would have been less favorably treated. We were given to
understand that Tamehameha was pleased to see whites establish
themselves in his dominions, but that he esteemed only people with some
useful trade, and despised idlers, and especially drunkards. We saw at
Wahoo about thirty of these white inhabitants, for the most part, people
of no character, and who had remained on the islands either from
indolence, or from drunkenness and licentiousness. Some had taken wives
in the country, in which case the king gave them a portion of land to
cultivate for themselves. But two of the worst sort had found means to
procure a small still, wherewith they manufactured rum and supplied it
to the natives.

The first navigators found only four sorts of quadrupeds on the Sandwich
islands:--dogs, swine, lizards, and rats. Since then sheep have been
carried there, goats, horned cattle, and even horses, and these animals
have multiplied.

The chief vegetable productions of these isles are the sugar cane, the
bread-fruit tree, the banana, the water-melon, the musk-melon, the
_taro_, the _ava_, the _pandanus_, the mulberry, &c. The bread-fruit
tree is about the size of a large apple-tree; the fruit resembles an
apple and is about twelve or fourteen inches in circumference; the rind
is thick and rough like a melon: when cut transversely it is found to
be full of sacs, like the inside of an orange; the pulp has the
consistence of water-melon, and is cooked before it is eaten. We saw
orchards of bread-fruit trees and bananas, and fields of sugar-cane,
back of Ohetity.

The _taro_ grows in low situations, and demands a great deal of care. It
is not unlike a white turnip,[E] and as it constitutes the principal
food of the natives, it is not to be wondered at that they bestow so
much attention on its culture. Wherever a spring of pure water is found
issuing out of the side of a hill, the gardener marks out on the
declivity the size of the field he intends to plant. The ground is
levelled and surrounded with a mud or stone wall, not exceeding eighteen
inches in height, and having a flood gate above and below. Into this
enclosure the water of the spring is conducted, or is suffered to escape
from it, according to the dryness of the season. When the root has
acquired a sufficient size it is pulled up for immediate use. This
esculent is very bad to eat raw, but boiled it is better than the yam.
Cut in slices, dried, pounded and reduced to a farina, it forms with
bread fruit the principal food of the natives. Sometimes they boil it to
the consistence of porridge, which they put into gourds and allow to
ferment; it will then keep a long time. They also use to mix with it,
fish, which they commonly eat raw with the addition of a little salt,
obtained by evaporation.

[Footnote E: Bougainville calls it "Calf-foot root."]

The _ava_ is a plant more injurious than useful to the inhabitants of
these isles; since they only make use of it to obtain a dangerous and
intoxicating drink, which they also call _ava_. The mode of preparing
this beverage is as follows: they chew the root, and spit out the result
into a basin; the juice thus expressed is exposed to the sun to undergo
fermentation; after which they decant it into a gourd; it is then fit
for use, and they drink it on occasions to intoxication. The too
frequent use of this disgusting liquor causes loss of sight, and a sort
of leprosy, which can only be cured by abstaining from it, and by
bathing frequently in the water of the sea. This leprosy turns their
skin white: we saw several of the lepers, who were also blind, or nearly
so. The natives are also fond of smoking: the tobacco grows in the
islands, but I believe it has been introduced from abroad. The bark of
the mulberry furnishes the cloth worn by both sexes; of the leaves of
the _pandanus_ they make mats. They have also a kind of wax-nut, about
the size of a dried plum of which they make candles by running a stick
through several of them. Lighted at one end, they burn like a wax taper,
and are the only light they use in their huts at night.

The men are generally well made and tall: they wear for their entire
clothing what they call a _maro_; it is a piece of figured or white
tapa, two yards long and a foot wide, which they pass round the loins
and between the legs, tying the ends in a knot over the left hip. At
first sight I thought they were painted red, but soon perceived that it
was the natural _color_ of their skin. The women wear a petticoat of the
same stuff as the _maro_, but wider and longer, without, however,
reaching below the knees. They have sufficiently regular features, and
but for the color, may pass, generally speaking, for handsome women.
Some to heighten their charms, dye their black hair (cut short for the
purpose) with quick lime, forming round the head a strip of pure white,
which disfigures them monstrously. Others among the young wear a more
becoming garland of flowers. For other traits, they are very lascivious,
and far from observing a modest reserve, especially toward strangers. In
regard to articles of mere ornament, I was told that they were not the
same in all the island. I did not see them, either, clothed in their war
dresses, or habits of ceremony. But I had an opportunity to see them
paint or print their _tapa_, or bark cloth, an occupation in which they
employ a great deal of care and patience. The pigments they use are
derived from vegetable juices, prepared with the oil of the cocoa-nut.
Their pencils are little reeds or canes of bamboo, at the extremity of
which they carve out divers sorts of flowers. First they tinge the cloth
they mean to print, yellow, green, or some other color which forms the
ground: then they draw upon it perfectly straight lines, without any
other guide but the eye; lastly they dip the ends of the bamboo sticks
in paint of a different tint from the ground, and apply them between the
dark or bright bars thus formed. This cloth resembles a good deal our
calicoes and printed cottons; the oils with which it is impregnated
renders it impervious to water. It is said that the natives of _Atowy_
excel all the other islanders in the art of painting the tapa.

The Sandwich-islanders live in villages of one or two hundred houses
arranged without symmetry, or rather grouped together in complete
defiance of it. These houses are constructed (as I have before said) of
posts driven in the ground, covered with long dry grass, and walled with
matting; the thatched roof gives them a sort of resemblance to our
Canadian barns or granges. The length of each house varies according to
the number of the family which occupies it: they are not smoky like the
wigwams of our Indians, the fireplace being always outside in the open
air, where all the cooking is performed. Hence their dwellings are very
clean and neat inside.

Their pirogues or canoes are extremely light and neat: those which are
single have an outrigger, consisting of two curved pieces of timber
lashed across the bows, and touching the water at the distance of five
or six feet from the side; another piece, turned up at each extremity,
is tied to the end and drags in the water, on which it acts like a
skating iron on the ice, and by its weight keeps the canoe in
equilibrium: without that contrivance they would infallibly upset. Their
paddles are long, with a very broad blade. All these canoes carry a
lateen, or sprit-sail, which is made of a mat of grass or leaves,
extremely well woven.

I did not remain long enough with these people to acquire very extensive
and exact notions of their religion: I know that they recognise a
Supreme Being, whom they call _Etoway_, and a number of inferior
divinities. Each village has one or more _morais_. These morais are
enclosures which served for cemeteries; in the middle is a temple,
where the priests alone have a right to enter: they contain several
idols of wood, rudely sculptured. At the feet of these images are
deposited, and left to putrify, the offerings of the people, consisting
of dogs, pigs, fowls, vegetables, &c. The respect of these savages for
their priests extends almost to adoration; they regard their persons as
sacred, and feel the greatest scruple in touching the objects, or going
near the places, which they have declared _taboo_ or forbidden. The
_taboo_ has often been useful to European navigators, by freeing them
from the importunities of the crowd.

In our rambles we met groups playing at different games. That of
draughts appeared the most common. The checker-board is very simple, the
squares being marked on the ground with a sharp stick: the men are
merely shells or pebbles. The game was different from that played in
civilized countries, so that we could not understand it.

Although nature has done almost everything for the inhabitants of the
Sandwich islands--though they enjoy a perpetual spring, a clear sky, a
salubrious climate, and scarcely any labor is required to produce the
necessaries of life--they can not be regarded as generally happy: the
artisans and producers, whom they call _Tootoos_, are nearly in the same
situation as the Helots among the Lacedemonians, condemned to labor
almost incessantly for their lord or _Eris_, without hope of bettering
their condition, and even restricted in the choice of their daily
food.[F] How has it happened that among a people yet barbarous, where
knowledge is nearly equally distributed, the class which is beyond
comparison the most numerous has voluntarily submitted to such a
humiliating and oppressive yoke? The Tartars, though infinitely less
numerous than the Chinese, have subjected them, because the former were
warlike and the latter were not. The same thing has happened, no doubt,
at remote periods, in Poland, and other regions of Europe and Asia. If
moral causes are joined to physical ones, the superiority of one caste
and the inferiority of the other will be still more marked; it is known
that the natives of Hispaniola, when they saw the Spaniards arrive on
their coast, in vessels of an astonishing size to their apprehensions,
and heard them imitate the thunder with their cannon, took them for
beings of a superior nature to their own. Supposing that this island had
been extremely remote from every other country, and that the Spaniards,
after conquering it, had held no further communication with any
civilized land, at the end of a century or two the language and the
manners would have assimilated, but there would have been two castes,
one of lords, enjoying all the advantages, the other of serfs, charged
with all the burdens. This theory seems to have been realized anciently
in Hindostan; but if we must credit the tradition of the
Sandwich-islanders, their country was originally peopled by a man and
woman, who came to Owyhee in a canoe. Unless, then, they mean that this
man and woman came with their slaves, and that the _Eris_ are descended
from the first, and the _Tootoos_ from the last, they ought to attribute
to each other the same origin, and consequently regard each other as
equals, and even as brothers, according to the manner of thinking that
prevails among savages. The cause of the slavery of women among most
barbarous tribes is more easily explained: the men have subjected them
by the right of the strongest, if ignorance and superstition have not
caused them to be previously regarded as beings of an inferior nature,
made to be servants and not companions.[G]

[Footnote F: The _Tootoos_ and all the women, the wives of the king and
principal chiefs excepted, are eternally condemned to the use of fruits
and vegetables; dogs and pigs being exclusively reserved for the table
of the _Eris_.]

[Footnote G: Some Indian tribes think that women have no souls, but die
altogether like the brutes; others assign them a different paradise from
that of men, which indeed they might have reason to prefer for
themselves, unless their relative condition were to be ameliorated in
the next world.]


     Departure from Wahoo.--Storm.--Arrival at the Mouth of the
     Columbia.--Reckless Order of the Captain.--Difficulty of the
     Entrance.--Perilous Situation of the Ship.--Unhappy Fate of a part
     of the Crew and People of the Expedition.

Having taken on board a hundred head of live hogs, some goats, two
sheep, a quantity of poultry, two boat-loads of sugar-cane, to feed the
hogs, as many more of yams, taro, and other vegetables, and all our
water-casks being snugly stowed, we weighed anchor on the 28th of
February, sixteen days after our arrival at Karaka-koua.

We left another man (Edward Aymes) at Wahoo. He belonged to a boat's
crew which was sent ashore for a load of sugar canes. By the time the
boat was loaded by the natives the ebb of the tide had left her aground,
and Aymes asked leave of the coxswain to take a stroll, engaging to be
back for the flood. Leave was granted him, but during his absence, the
tide haying come in sufficiently to float the boat, James Thorn, the
coxswain, did not wait for the young sailor, who was thus left behind.
The captain immediately missed the man, and, on being informed that he
had strolled away from the boat on leave, flew into a violent passion.
Aymes soon made his appearance alongside, having hired some natives to
take him on board; on perceiving him, the captain ordered him to stay in
the long-boat, then lashed to the side with its load of sugar-cane. The
captain then himself got into the boat, and, taking one of the canes,
beat the poor fellow most unmercifully with it; after which, not
satisfied with this act of brutality, he seized his victim and threw him
overboard! Aymes, however, being an excellent swimmer, made for the
nearest native canoe, of which there were, as usual, a great number
around the ship. The islanders, more humane than our captain, took in
the poor fellow, who, in spite of his entreaties to be received on
board, could only succeed in getting his clothes, which were thrown into
the canoe. At parting, he told Captain Thorn that he knew enough of the
laws of his country, to obtain redress, should they ever meet in the
territory of the American Union.

While we were getting under sail, Mr. M'Kay pointed out to the captain
that there was one water-cask empty, and proposed sending it ashore to
be filled, as the great number of live animals we had on board required
a large quantity of fresh water. The captain, who feared that some of
the men would desert if he sent them ashore, made an observation to that
effect in answer to Mr. M'Kay, who then proposed sending me on a canoe
which lay alongside, to fill the cask in question: this was agreed to by
the captain, and I took the cask accordingly to the nearest spring.
Having filled it, not without some difficulty, the islanders seeking to
detain me, and I perceiving that they had given me some gourds full of
salt water, I was forced also to demand a double pirogue (for the canoe
which had brought the empty cask, was found inadequate to carry a full
one), the ship being already under full sail and gaining an offing. As
the natives would not lend a hand to procure what I wanted, I thought it
necessary to have recourse to the king, and in fact did so. For seeing
the vessel so far at sea, with what I knew of the captain's disposition,
I began to fear that he had formed the plan of leaving me on the island.
My fears, nevertheless were ill-founded; the vessel made a tack toward
the shore, to my great joy; and a double pirogue was furnished me,
through the good offices of our young friend the French schoolmaster, to
return on board with my cask.

Our deck was now as much encumbered as when left New York; for we had
been obliged to place our live animals at the gangways, and to board
over their pens, on which it was necessary to pass, to work ship. Our
own numbers were also augmented; for we had taken a dozen islanders for
the service of our intended commercial establishment. Their term of
engagement was three years, during which we were to feed and clothe
them, and at its expiration they were to receive a hundred dollars in
merchandise. The captain had shipped another dozen as hands on the
coasting voyage. These people, who make very good sailors, were eager to
be taken into employment, and we might easily have carried off a much
greater number.

We had contrary winds till the 2d of March, when, having doubled the
western extremity of the island, we made northing, and lost sight of
these smiling and temperate countries, to enter very soon a colder
region and less worthy of being inhabited. The winds were variable, and
nothing extraordinary happened to us till the 16th, when, being arrived
at the latitude of 35° 11' north, and in 138° 16' of west longitude, the
wind shifted all of a sudden to the S.S.W., and blew with such violence,
that we were forced to strike top-gallant masts and top-sails, and run
before the gale with a double reef in our foresail. The rolling of the
vessel was greater than in all the gales we had experienced previously.
Nevertheless, as we made great headway, and were approaching the
continent, the captain by way of precaution, lay to for two nights
successively. At last, on the 22d, in the morning, we saw the land.
Although we had not been able to take any observations for several days,
nevertheless, by the appearance of the coast, we perceived that we were
near the mouth of the river Columbia, and were not more than three miles
from land. The breakers formed by the bar at the entrance of that river,
and which we could distinguish from the ship, left us no room to doubt
that we had arrived at last at the end of our voyage.

The wind was blowing in heavy squalls, and the sea ran very high: in
spite of that, the captain caused a boat to be lowered, and Mr. Fox
(first mate), Basile Lapensee, Ignace Lapensee, Jos. Nadeau, and John
Martin, got into her, taking some provisions and firearms, with orders
to sound the channel and report themselves on board as soon as possible.
The boat was not even supplied with a good sail, or a mast, but one of
the partners gave Mr. Fox a pair of bed sheets to serve for the former.
Messrs M'Kay and M'Dougall could not help remonstrating with the
captain on the imprudence of sending the boat ashore in such weather;
but they could not move his obstinacy. The boat's crew pulled away from
the ship; alas! we were never to see her again; and we already had a
foreboding of her fate. The next day the wind seemed to moderate, and we
approached very near the coast. The entrance of the river, which we
plainly distinguished with the naked eye, appeared but a confused and
agitated sea: the waves, impelled by a wind from the offing, broke upon
the bar, and left no perceptible passage. We got no sign of the boat;
and toward evening, for our own safety, we hauled off to sea, with all
countenances extremely sad, not excepting the captain's, who appeared to
me as much afflicted as the rest, and who had reason to be so. During
the night, the wind fell, the clouds dispersed, and the sky became
serene. On the morning of the 24th, we found that the current had
carried us near the coast again, and we dropped anchor in fourteen
fathoms water, north of Cape Disappointment. The _coup d'oeil_ is not
so smiling by a great deal at this anchorage, as at the Sandwich
islands, the coast offering little to the eye but a continuous range of
high mountains covered with snow.

_Ship Tonquin, crossing the bar, 25th March 1811._]

Although it was calm, the sea continued to break over the reef with
violence, between Cape Disappointment and Point Adams. We sent Mr.
Mumford (the second mate) to sound a passage; but having found the
breakers too heavy, he returned on board about mid-day. Messrs. M'Kay
and D. Stuart offered their services to go ashore, to search for the
boat's crew who left on the 22d; but they could not find a place to
land. They saw Indians, who made signs to them to pull round the cape,
but they deemed it more prudent to return to the vessel. Soon after
their return, a gentle breeze sprang up from the westward, we raised
anchor, and approached the entrance of the river. Mr. Aikin was then
despatched in the pinnace, accompanied by John Coles (sail-maker),
Stephen Weeks (armorer), and two Sandwich-islanders; and we followed
under easy sail. Another boat had been sent out before this one, but
the captain judging that she bore too far south, made her a signal to
return. Mr. Aikin not finding less than four fathoms, we followed him
and advanced between the breakers, with a favorable wind, so that we
passed the boat on our starboard, within pistol-shot. We made signs to
her to return on board, but she could not accomplish it; the ebb tide
carried her with such rapidity that in a few minutes we had lost sight
of her amidst the tremendous breakers that surrounded us. It was near
nightfall, the wind began to give way, and the water was so low with the
ebb, that we struck six or seven times with violence: the breakers broke
over the ship and threatened to submerge her. At last we passed from two
and three quarters fathoms of water to seven, where we were obliged to
drop anchor, the wind having entirely failed us. We were far, however,
from being out of danger, and the darkness came to add to the horror of
our situation: our vessel, though at anchor, threatened to be carried
away every moment by the tide; the best bower was let go, and it kept
two men at the wheel to hold her head in the right direction. However,
Providence came to our succor: the flood succeeded to the ebb, and the
wind rising out of the offing, we weighed both anchors, in spite of the
obscurity of the night, and succeeded in gaining a little bay or cove,
formed at the entrance of the river by Cape Disappointment, and called
_Baker's Bay_, where we found a good anchorage. It was about midnight,
and all retired to take a little rest: the crew, above all, had great
need of it. We were fortunate to be in a place of safety, for the wind
rose higher and higher during the rest of the night, and on the morning
of the 25th allowed us to see that this ocean is not always pacific.

Some natives visited us this day, bringing with them beaver-skins; but
the inquietude caused in our minds by the loss of two boats' crews, for
whom we wished to make search, did not permit us to think of traffic. We
tried to make the savages comprehend, by signs, that we had sent a boat
ashore three days previous, and that we had no news of her; but they
seemed not to understand us. The captain, accompanied by some of our
gentlemen, landed, and they set themselves to search for our missing
people, in the woods, and along the shore N.W. of the cape. After a few
hours we saw the captain return with Weeks, one of the crew of the last
boat sent out. He was stark naked, and after being clothed, and
receiving some nourishment, gave us an account of his almost miraculous
escape from the waves on the preceding night, in nearly the following

"After you had passed our boat;" said he, "the breakers caused by the
meeting of the wind roll and ebb-tide, became a great deal heavier than
when we entered the river with the flood. The boat, for want of a
rudder, became very hard to manage, and we let her drift at the mercy of
the tide, till, after having escaped several surges, one struck us
midship and capsized us. I lost sight of Mr. Aiken and John Coles: but
the two islanders were close by me; I saw them stripping off their
clothes, and I followed their example; and seeing the pinnace within my
reach, keel upward, I seized it; the two natives came to my assistance;
we righted her, and by sudden jerks threw out so much of the water that
she would hold a man: one of the natives jumped in, and, bailing with
his two hands, succeeded in a short time in emptying her. The other
native found the oars, and about dark we were all three embarked. The
tide having now carried us outside the breakers, I endeavored to
persuade my companions in misfortune to row, but they were so benumbed
with cold that they absolutely refused. I well knew that without
clothing, and exposed to the rigor of the air, I must keep in constant
exercise. Seeing besides that the night was advancing, and having no
resource but the little strength left me, I set to work sculling, and
pushed off the bar, but so as not to be carried out too far to sea.
About midnight, one of my companions died: the other threw himself upon
the body of his comrade, and I could not persuade him to abandon it.
Daylight appeared at last; and, being near the shore, I headed in for
it, and arrived, thank God, safe and sound, through the breakers, on a
sandy beach. I helped the islander, who yet gave some signs of life, to
get out of the boat, and we both took to the woods; but, seeing that he
was not able to follow me, I left him to his bad fortune, and, pursuing
a beaten path that I perceived, I found myself, to my great
astonishment, in the course of a few hours, near the vessel."

The gentlemen who went ashore with the captain divided themselves into
three parties, to search for the native whom Weeks had left at the
entrance of the forest; but, after scouring the woods and the point of
the cape all day, they came on board in the evening without having found


     Regrets of the Author at the Loss of his Companions.--Obsequies of
     a Sandwich Islander.--First steps in the Formation of the intended
     Establishment.--New Alarm.--Encampment.

The narrative of Weeks informed us of the death of three of our
companions, and we could not doubt that the five others had met a
similar fate. This loss of eight of our number, in two days, before we
had set foot on shore, was a bad augury, and was sensibly felt by all of
us. In the course of so long a passage, the habit of seeing each other
every day, the participation of the same cares and dangers, and
confinement to the same narrow limits, had formed between all the
passengers a connection that could not be broken, above all in a manner
so sad and so unlooked for, without making us feel a void like that
which is experienced in a well-regulated and loving family, when it is
suddenly deprived by death, of the presence of one of its cherished
members. We had left New York, for the most part strangers to one
another; but arrived at the river Columbia we were all friends, and
regarded each other almost as brothers. We regretted especially the two
brothers Lapensée and Joseph Nadeau: these young men had been in an
especial manner recommended by their respectable parents in Canada to
the care of Mr. M'Kay; and had acquired by their good conduct the esteem
of the captain, of the crew, and of all the passengers. The brothers
Lapensée were courageous and willing, never flinching in the hour of
danger, and had become as good seamen as any on board. Messrs Fox and
Aikin were both highly regarded by all; the loss of Mr. Fox, above all,
who was endeared to every one by his gentlemanly behavior and
affability, would have been severely regretted at any time, but it was
doubly so in the present conjuncture: this gentleman, who had already
made a voyage to the Northwest, could have rendered important services
to the captain and to the company. The preceding days had been days of
apprehension and of uneasiness; this was one of sorrow and mourning.

The following day, the same gentlemen who had volunteered their services
to seek for the missing islander, resumed their labors, and very soon
after they left us, we perceived a great fire kindled at the verge of
the woods, over against the ship. I was sent in a boat and arrived at
the fire. It was our gentlemen who had kindled it, to restore animation
to the poor islander, whom they had at last found under the rocks, half
dead with cold and fatigue, his legs swollen and his feet bleeding. We
clothed him, and brought him on board, where, by our care, we succeeded
in restoring him to life.

Toward evening, a number of the Sandwich-islanders, provided with the
necessary utensils, and offerings consisting of biscuit, lard, and
tobacco, went ashore, to pay the last duties to their compatriot, who
died in Mr. Aikin's boat, on the night of the 24th. Mr. Pillet and I
went with them, and witnessed the obsequies, which took place in the
manner following. Arrived at the spot where the body had been hung upon
a tree to preserve it from the wolves, the natives dug a grave in the
sand; then taking down the body, and stretching it alongside the pit,
they placed the biscuit under one of the arms, a piece of pork beneath
the other, and the tobacco beneath the chin and the genital parts. Thus
provided for the journey to the other world, the body was deposited in
the grave and covered with sand and stones. All the countrymen of the
dead man then knelt on either side of the grave, in a double row, with
their faces to the east, except one of them who officiated as priest;
the latter went to the margin of the sea, and having filled his hat with
water, sprinkled the two rows of islanders, and recited a sort of
prayer, to which the others responded, nearly as we do in the litanies.
That prayer ended, they rose and returned to the vessel, looking neither
to the right hand nor to the left. As every one of them appeared to me
familiar with the part he performed, it is more than probable that they
observed, as far as circumstances permitted, the ceremonies practised in
their country on like occasions. We all returned on board about sundown.

The next day, the 27th, desirous of clearing the gangways of the live
stock; we sent some men on shore to construct a pen, and soon after
landed about fifty hogs, committing them to the care of one of the
hands. On the 30th, the long boat was manned, armed and provisioned, and
the captain, with Messrs. M'Kay and D. Stuart, and some of the clerks,
embarked on it, to ascend the river and choose an eligible spot for our
trading establishment. Messrs. Boss and Pillet left at the same time, to
run down south, and try to obtain intelligence of Mr. Fox and his crew.
In the meantime, having reached some of the goods most at hand, we
commenced, with the natives who came every day to the vessel, a trade
for beaver-skins, and sea-otter stones.

Messrs. Ross and Pillet returned on board on the 1st of April, without
having learned anything respecting Mr. Fox and his party. They did not
even perceive along the beach any vestiges of the boat. The natives who
occupy Point _Adams_, and who are called _Clatsops_, received our young
gentlemen very amicably and hospitably. The captain and his companions
also returned on the 4th, without having decided on a position for the
establishment, finding none which appeared to them eligible. It was
consequently resolved to explore the south bank, and Messrs. M'Dougal
and D. Stuart departed on that expedition the next day, promising to
return by the 7th.

The 7th came, and these gentlemen did not return. It rained almost all
day. The day after, some natives came on board, and reported that
Messrs. M'Dougal and Stuart had capsized the evening before in crossing
the bay. This news at first alarmed us; and, if it had been verified,
would have given the finishing blow to our discouragement. Still, as the
weather was excessively bad, and we did not repose entire faith in the
story of the natives--whom, moreover, we might not have perfectly
understood--we remained in suspense till the 10th. On the morning of
that day, we were preparing to send some of the people in search of our
two gentlemen, when we perceived two large canoes, full of Indians,
coming toward the vessel: they were of the _Chinook_ village, which was
situated at the foot of a bluff on the north side of the river, and were
bringing back Messrs. M'Dougal and Stuart. We made known to these
gentlemen the report we had heard on the 8th from the natives, and they
informed us that it had been in fact well founded; that on the 7th,
desirous of reaching the ship agreeably to their promise, they had
quitted _Chinook_ point, in spite of the remonstrances of the chief,
_Comcomly_, who sought to detain them by pointing out the danger to
which they would expose themselves in crossing the bay in such a heavy
sea as it was; that they had scarcely made more than a mile and a half
before a huge wave broke over their boat and capsized it; that the
Indians, aware of the danger to which they were exposed, had followed
them, and that, but for their assistance, Mr. M'Dougal, who could not
swim, would inevitably have been drowned; that, after the Chinooks had
kindled a large fire and dried their clothes, they had been conducted by
them back to their village, where the principal chief had received them
with all imaginable hospitality, regaling them with every delicacy his
wigwam afforded; that, in fine, if they had got back safe and sound to
the vessel, it was to the timely succor and humane cares of the Indians
whom we saw before us that they owed it. We liberally rewarded these
generous children of the forest, and they returned home well satisfied.

This last survey was also fruitless, as Messrs. M'Dougal and Stuart did
not find an advantageous site to build upon. But, as the captain wished
to take advantage of the fine season to pursue his traffic with the
natives along the N.W. coast, it was resolved to establish ourselves on
Point _George_, situated on the south bank, about fourteen or fifteen
miles from our present anchorage. Accordingly, we embarked on the 12th,
in the long-boat, to the number of twelve, furnished with tools, and
with provisions for a week. We landed at the bottom of a small bay,
where we formed a sort of encampment. The spring, usually so tardy in
this latitude, was already far advanced; the foliage was budding, and
the earth was clothing itself with verdure; the weather was superb, and
all nature smiled. We imagined ourselves in the garden of Eden; the wild
forests seemed to us delightful groves, and the leaves transformed to
brilliant flowers. No doubt, the pleasure of finding ourselves at the
end of our voyage, and liberated from the ship, made things appear to us
a great deal more beautiful than they really were. Be that as it may, we
set ourselves to work with enthusiasm, and cleared, in a few days, a
point of land of its under-brush, and of the huge trunks of pine-trees
that covered it, which we rolled, half-burnt, down the bank. The vessel
came to moor near our encampment, and the trade went on. The natives
visited us constantly and in great numbers; some to trade, others to
gratify their curiosity, or to purloin some little articles if they
found an opportunity. We landed the frame timbers which we had brought,
ready cut for the purpose, in the vessel; and by the end of April, with
the aid of the ship-carpenters, John Weeks and Johann Koaster, we had
laid the keel of a coasting-schooner of about thirty tons.


     Voyage up the River.--Description of the Country.--Meeting with
     strange Indians.

The Indians having informed us that above certain rapids, there was an
establishment of white men, we doubted not that it was a trading post of
the Northwest Company; and to make sure of it, we procured a large canoe
and a guide, and set out, on the 2d of May, Messrs M'Kay, R. Stuart,
Montigny, and I, with a sufficient number of hands. We first passed a
lofty head-land, that seemed at a distance to be detached from the main,
and to which we gave the name of _Tongue Point_. Here the river gains a
width of some nine or ten miles, and keeps it for about twelve miles up.
The left bank, which we were coasting, being concealed by little low
islands, we encamped for the night on one of them, at the village of
_Wahkaykum_, to which our guide belonged.

We continued our journey on the 3d: the river narrows considerably, at
about thirty miles from its mouth, and is obstructed with islands, which
are thickly covered with the willow, poplar, alder, and ash. These
islands are, without exception, uninhabited and uninhabitable, being
nothing but swamps, and entirely overflowed in the months of June and
July; as we understood from _Coalpo_, our guide, who appeared to be an
intelligent man. In proportion as we advanced, we saw the high mountains
capped with snow, which form the chief and majestic feature, though a
stern one, of the banks of the Columbia for some distance from its
mouth, recede, and give place to a country of moderate elevation, and
rising amphitheatrically from the margin of the stream. The river
narrows to a mile or thereabouts; the forest is less dense, and patches
of green prairie are seen. We passed a large village on the south bank,
called _Kreluit_, above which is a fine forest of oaks; and encamped
for the night, on a low point, at the foot of an isolated rock, about
one hundred and fifty feet high. This rock appeared to me remarkable on
account of its situation, reposing in the midst of a low and swampy
ground, as if it had been dropped from the clouds, and seeming to have
no connection with the neighboring mountains. On a cornice or shelving
projection about thirty feet from its base, the natives of the adjacent
villages deposite their dead, in canoes; and it is the same rock to
which, for this reason, Lieutenant Broughton gave the name of _Mount

On the 4th, in the morning, we arrived at a large village of the same
name as that which we had passed the evening before, _Kreluit_, and we
landed to obtain information respecting a considerable stream, which
here discharges into the Columbia, and respecting its resources for the
hunter and trader in furs. It comes from the north, and is called
_Cowlitzk_ by the natives. Mr. M'Kay embarked with Mr. de Montigny and
two Indians, in a small canoe, to examine the course of this river, a
certain distance up. On entering the stream, they saw a great number of
birds, which they took at first for turkeys, so much they resembled
them, but which were only a kind of carrion eagles, vulgarly called
_turkey-buzzards_. We were not a little astonished to see Mr. de
Montigny return on foot and alone; he soon informed us of the reason:
having ascended the _Kowlitzk_ about a mile and a half, on rounding a
bend of the stream, they suddenly came in view of about twenty canoes,
full of Indians, who had made a rush upon them with the most frightful
yells; the two natives and the guide who conducted their little canoe,
retreated with the utmost precipitancy, but seeing that they would be
overtaken, they stopped short, and begged Mr. M'Kay to fire upon the
approaching savages, which he, being well acquainted with the Indian
character from the time he accompanied Sir Alexander M'Kenzie, and
having met with similar occurrences before, would by no means do; but
displayed a friendly sign to the astonished natives, and invited them to
land for an amicable talk; to which they immediately assented. Mr.
M'Kay had sent Mr. de Montigny to procure some tobacco and a pipe, in
order to strike a peace with these barbarians. The latter then returned
to Mr. M'Kay, with the necessary articles, and in the evening the party
came back to our camp, which we had fixed between the villages. We were
then informed that the Indians whom Mr. M'Kay had met, were at war with
the _Kreluits_. It was impossible, consequently, to close our eyes all
night; the natives passing and repassing continually from one village to
the other, making fearful cries, and coming every minute to solicit us
to discharge our firearms; all to frighten their enemies, and let them
see that they were on their guard.

On the 5th, in the morning, we paid a visit to the hostile camp; and
those savages, who had never seen white men, regarded us with curiosity
and astonishment, lifting the legs of our trowsers and opening our
shirts, to see if the skin of our bodies resembled that of our faces and
hands. We remained some time with them, to make proposals of peace; and
having ascertained that this warlike demonstration originated in a
trifling offence on the part of the _Kreluits_, we found them well
disposed to arrange matters in an amicable fashion. After having given
them, therefore, some looking-glasses, beads, knives, tobacco, and other
trifles, we quitted them and pursued our way.

Having passed a deserted village, and then several islands, we came in
sight of a noble mountain on the north, about twenty miles distant, all
covered with snow, contrasting remarkably with the dark foliage of the
forests at its base, and probably the same which was seen by Broughton,
and named by him _Mount St. Helen's_. We pulled against a strong current
all this day, and at evening our guide made us enter a little river, on
the bank of which we found a good camping place, under a grove of oaks,
and in the midst of odoriferous wild flowers, where we passed a night
more tranquil than that which had preceded it.

On the morning of the 6th we ascended this small stream, and soon
arrived at a large village called _Thlakalamah_, the chief whereof, who
was a young and handsome man, was called _Keasseno_, and was a relative
of our guide. The situation of this village is the most charming that
can be, being built on the little river that we had ascended, and indeed
at its navigable head, being here, but a torrent with numerous cascades
leaping from rock to rock in their descent to the deep, limpid water,
which then flows through a beautiful prairie, enamelled with odorous
flowers of all colors, and studded with superb groves of oak. The
freshness and beauty of this spot, which Nature seemed to have taken
pleasure in adorning and enriching with her most precious gifts,
contrasted, in a striking manner, with the indigence and uncleanliness
of its inhabitants; and I regretted that it had not fallen to the lot of
civilized men. I was wrong no doubt: it is just that those should be
most favored by their common mother, who are least disposed to pervert
her gifts, or to give the preference to advantages which are factitious,
and often very frivolous. We quitted with regret this charming spot,
and soon came to another large village, which our guide informed us was
called _Kathlapootle_, and was situated at the confluence of a small
stream, that seemed to flow down from the mountain covered with snow,
which we had seen the day before: this river is called _Cowilkt_. We
coasted a pretty island, well timbered, and high enough above the level
of the Columbia to escape inundation in the freshets, and arrived at two
villages called _Maltnabah_. We then passed the confluence of the river
_Wallamat_, or _Willamet_, above which the tide ceases to be felt in the
Columbia. Our guide informed us that ascending this river about a day's
journey, there was a considerable fall, beyond which the country
abounded in deer, elk, bear, beaver, and otter. But here, at the spot
where we were, the oaks and poplar which line both banks of the river,
the green and flowery prairies discerned through the trees, and the
mountains discovered in the distance, offer to the eye of the observer
who loves the beauties of simple nature, a prospect the most lovely and
enchanting. We encamped for the night on the edge of one of these fine

On the 7th we passed several low islands, and soon discovered _Mount
Hood_, a high mountain, capped with snow, so named by Lieutenant
Broughton; and _Mount Washington_, another snowy summit, so called by
Lewis and Clarke. The prospect which the former had before his eyes at
this place, appeared to him so charming, that landing upon a point, to
take possession of the country in the name of King George, he named it
_Pointe Belle Vue_. At two o'clock we passed _Point Vancouver_, the
highest reached by Broughton. The width of the river diminishes
considerably above this point, and we began very soon to encounter
shoals of sand and gravel; a sure indication that we were nearing the
rapids. We encamped that evening under a ledge of rocks, descending
almost to the water's edge.

The next day, the 8th, we did not proceed far before we encountered a
very rapid current. Soon after, we saw a hut of Indians engaged in
fishing, where we stopped to breakfast. We found here an old blind man,
who gave us a cordial reception. Our guide said that he was a white man,
and that his name was _Soto_. We learned from the mouth of the old man
himself, that he was the son of a Spaniard who had been wrecked at the
mouth of the river; that a part of the crew on this occasion got safe
ashore, but were all massacred by the Clatsops, with the exception of
four, who were spared and who married native women; that these four
Spaniards, of whom his father was one, disgusted with the savage life,
attempted to reach a settlement of their own nation toward the south,
but had never been heard of since; and that when his father, with his
companions, left the country, he himself was yet quite young.[H] These
good people having regaled us with fresh salmon, we left them, and
arrived very soon at a rapid, opposite an island, named _Strawberry
Island_ by Captains Lewis and Clarke, in 1806. We left our men at a
large village, to take care of the canoe and baggage; and following our
guide, after walking about two hours, in a beaten path, we came to the
foot of the fall, where we amused ourselves for some time with shooting
the seals, which were here in abundance, and in watching the Indians
taking salmon below the cataract, in their scoop-nets, from stages
erected for that purpose over the eddies. A chief, a young man of fine
person and a good mien, came to us, followed by some twenty others, and
invited us to his wigwam: we accompanied him, had roasted salmon for
supper, and some mats were spread for our night's repose.

[Footnote H: These facts, if they were authenticated, would prove that
the Spaniards were the first who discovered the mouth of the Columbia.
It is certain that long before the voyages of Captains Gray and
Vancouver, they knew at least a part of the course of that river, which
was designated in their maps under the name of _Oregon_.]

The next morning, having ascertained that there was no trading post near
the Falls, and Coalpo absolutely refusing to proceed further, alleging
that the natives of the villages beyond were his enemies, and would not
fail to kill him if they had him in their power, we decided to return to
the encampment. Having, therefore, distributed some presents to our host
(I mean the young chief with whom we had supped and lodged) and to some
of his followers, and procured a supply of fresh salmon for the return
voyage, we re-embarked and reached the camp on the 14th, without
accidents or incidents worth relating.


     Departure of the Tonquin.--Indian Messengers.--Project of an
     Expedition to the Interior.--Arrival of Mr. Daniel
     Thompson.--Departure of the Expedition.--Designs upon us by the
     Natives.--Rumors of the Destruction of the Tonquin.--Scarcity of
     Provisions.--Narrative of a strange Indian.--Duplicity and Cunning
     of Comcomly.

Having built a warehouse (62 feet by 20) to put under cover the articles
we were to receive from the ship, we were busily occupied, from the 16th
to the 30th, in stowing away the goods and other effects intended for
the establishment.

The ship, which had been detained by circumstances, much longer than had
been anticipated, left her anchorage at last, on the 1st of June, and
dropped down to Baker's bay, there to wait for a favorable wind to get
out of the river. As she was to coast along the north, and enter all the
harbors, in order to procure as many furs as possible, and to touch at
the Columbia river before she finally left these seas for the United
States, it was unanimously resolved among the partners, that Mr. M'Kay
should join the cruise, as well to aid the captain, as to obtain correct
information in regard to the commerce with the natives on that coast.
Mr. M'Kay selected Messrs. J. Lewis and O. de Montigny to accompany him;
but the latter having represented that the sea made him sick, was
excused; and Mr. M'Kay shipped in his place a young man named Louis
Bruslé, to serve him in the capacity of domestic, being one of the young
Canadian sailors. I had the good fortune not to be chosen for this
disastrous voyage, thanks to my having made myself useful at the
establishment. Mr. Mumford (the second mate) owed the same happiness to
the incompatibility of his disposition with that of the captain; he had
permission to remain, and engaged with the company in place of Mr. Aikin
as coaster, and in command of the schooner.[I]

[Footnote I: This schooner was found too small for the purpose. Mr.
Astor had no idea of the dangers to be met at the mouth of the Colombia,
or he would have ordered the frame of a vessel of at least one hundred
tons. The frames shipped in New York were used in the construction of
this one only, which was employed solely in the river trade.]

On the 5th of June, the ship got out to sea, with a good wind. We
continued in the meantime to labor without intermission at the
completion of the storehouse, and in the erection of a dwelling for
ourselves, and a powder magazine. These buildings were constructed of
hewn logs, and, in the absence of boards, tightly covered and roofed
with cedar bark. The natives, of both sexes, visited us more frequently,
and formed a pretty considerable camp near the establishment.

On the 15th, some natives from up the river, brought us two strange
Indians, a man and a woman. They were not attired like the savages on
the river Columbia, but wore long robes of dressed deer-skin, with
leggings and moccasins in the fashion of the tribes to the east of the
Rocky Mountains. We put questions to them in various Indian dialects;
but they did not understand us. They showed us a letter addressed to
"_Mr. John Stuart, Fort Estekatadene, New Caledonia_." Mr. Pillet then
addressing them in the _Knisteneaux_ language, they answered, although
they appeared not to understand it perfectly. Notwithstanding, we
learned from them that they had been sent by a Mr. Finnan M'Donald, a
clerk in the service of the Northwest Company, and who had a post on a
river which they called _Spokan_; that having lost their way, they had
followed the course of the _Tacousah-Tesseh_ (the Indian name of the
Columbia), that when they arrived at the Falls, the natives made them
understand that there were white men at the mouth of the river; and not
doubting that the person to whom the letter was addressed would be found
there, they had come to deliver it.

We kept these messengers for some days, and having drawn from them
important information respecting the country in the interior, west of
the Mountains, we decided to send an expedition thither, under the
command of Mr. David Stuart; and the 15th July was fixed for its

All was in fact ready on the appointed day, and we were about to load
the canoes, when toward midday, we saw a large canoe, with a flag
displayed at her stern, rounding the point which we called _Tongue
Point_. We knew not who it could be; for we did not so soon expect our
own party, who (as the reader will remember) were to cross the
continent, by the route which Captains Lewis and Clarke had followed, in
1805, and to winter for that purpose somewhere on the Missouri. We were
soon relieved of our uncertainty by the arrival of the canoe, which
touched shore at a little wharf that we had built to facilitate the
landing of goods from the vessel. The flag she bore was the British, and
her crew was composed of eight Canadian boatmen or _voyageurs_. A
well-dressed man, who appeared to be the commander, was the first to
leap ashore, and addressing us without ceremony, said that his name was
David Thompson, and that he was one of the partners of the Northwest
Company. We invited him to our quarters, which were at one end of the
warehouse, the dwelling-house not being yet completed. After the usual
civilities had been extended to our visitor, Mr. Thompson said that he
had crossed the continent during the preceding season; but that the
desertion of a portion of his men had compelled him to winter at the
base of the Rocky mountains, at the head waters of the Columbia. In the
spring he had built a canoe, the materials for which he had brought with
him across the mountains, and had come down the river to our
establishment. He added that the wintering partners had resolved to
abandon all their trading posts west of the mountains, not to enter into
competition with us, provided our company would engage not to encroach
upon their commerce on the east side: and to support what he said,
produced a letter to that effect, addressed by the wintering partners to
the chief of their house in Canada, the Hon. William M'Gillivray.

Mr. Thompson kept a regular journal, and travelled, I thought, more like
a geographer than a fur-trader. He was provided with a sextant,
chronometer and barometer, and during a week's sojourn which he made at
our place, had an opportunity to make several astronomical
observations. He recognised the two Indians who had brought the letter
addressed to Mr. J. Stuart, and told us that they were two women, one of
whom had dressed herself as a man, to travel with more security. The
description which he gave us of the interior of the country was not
calculated to give us a very favorable idea of it, and did not perfectly
accord with that of our two Indian guests. We persevered, however, in
the resolution we had taken, of sending an expedition thither; and, on
the 23d Mr. D. Stuart set out, accompanied by Messrs. Pillet, Boss,
M'Clellan and de Montigny, with four Canadian _voyageurs_, and the two
Indian women, and in company with Mr. Thompson and his crew. The wind
being favorable, the little flotilla hoisted sail, and was soon out of
our sight.[J]

[Footnote J: Mr. Thompson had no doubt been sent by the agents of the
Northwest Company, to take possession of an eligible spot at the mouth
of the Columbia, with a view of forestalling the plan of Mr. Astor. He
would have been there before us, no doubt, but for the desertion of his
men. The consequence of this step would have been his taking possession
of the country, and displaying the British flag, as an emblem, of that
possession and a guarantee of protection hereafter. He found himself too
late, however, and the stars and stripes floating over _Astoria_. This
note is not intended by the author as an after-thought: as the opinion
it conveys was that which we all entertained at the time of that
gentleman's visit.]

The natives, who till then had surrounded us in great numbers, began to
withdraw, and very soon we saw no more of them. At first we attributed
their absence to the want of furs to trade with; but we soon learned
that they acted in that manner from another motive. One of the secondary
chiefs who had formed a friendship for Mr. R. Stuart, informed him, that
seeing us reduced in number by the expedition lately sent off, they had
formed the design of surprising us, to take our lives and plunder the
post. We hastened, therefore, to put ourselves in the best possible
state of defence. The dwelling house was raised, parallel to the
warehouse; we cut a great quantity of pickets in the forest, and formed
a square, with palisades in front and rear, of about 90 feet by 120; the
warehouse, built on the edge of a ravine, formed one flank, the dwelling
house and shops the other; with a little bastion at each angle north
and south, on which were mounted four small cannon. The whole was
finished in six days, and had a sufficiently formidable aspect to deter
the Indians from attacking us; and for greater surety, we organized a
guard for day and night.

Toward the end of the month, a large assemblage of Indians from the
neighborhood of the straits _Juan de Fuca_, and _Gray's Harbor_, formed
a great camp on Baker's Bay, for the ostensible object of fishing for
sturgeon. It was bruited among these Indians that the Tonquin had been
destroyed on the coast, and Mr. M'Kay (or the chief trader, as they
called him) and all the crew, massacred by the natives. We did not give
credence to this rumor. Some days after, other Indians from Gray's
Harbor, called _Tchikeylis_, confirmed what the first had narrated, and
even gave us, as far as we could judge by the little we knew of their
language, a very circumstantial detail of the affair, so that without
wholly convincing us, it did not fail to make a painful impression on
our minds, and keep us in an excited state of feeling as to the truth
of the report. The Indians of the Bay looked fiercer and more warlike
than those of our neighborhood; so we redoubled our vigilance, and
performed a regular daily drill to accustom ourselves to the use of

To the necessity of securing ourselves against an attack on the part of
the natives, was joined that of obtaining a stock of provisions for the
winter: those which we had received from the vessel were very quickly
exhausted, and from the commencement of the month of July we were forced
to depend upon fish. Not having brought hunters with us, we had to rely
for venison, on the precarious hunt of one of the natives who had not
abandoned us when the rest of his countrymen retired. This man brought
us from time to time, a very lean and very dry doe-elk, for which we had
to pay, notwithstanding, very dear. The ordinary price of a stag was a
blanket, a knife, some tobacco, powder and ball, besides supplying our
hunter with a musket. This dry meat, and smoke-dried fish, constituted
our daily food, and that in very insufficient quantity for hardworking
men. "We had no bread, and vegetables, of course, were quite out of the
question. In a word our fare was not sumptuous. Those who accommodated
themselves best to our mode of living were the Sandwich-islanders:
salmon and elk were to them exquisite viands.

On the 11th of August a number of Chinooks visited us, bringing a
strange Indian, who had, they said, something interesting to
communicate. This savage told us, in fact, that he had been engaged with
ten more of his countrymen, by a Captain _Ayres_, to hunt seals on the
islands in _Sir Francis Drake's Bay_, where these animals are very
numerous, with a promise of being taken home and paid for their
services; the captain had left them on the islands, to go southwardly
and purchase provisions, he said, of the Spaniards of Monterey in
California; but he had never returned: and they, believing that he had
been wrecked, had embarked in a skiff which he had left them, and had
reached the main land, from which they were not far distant; but their
skiff was shattered to pieces in the surf, and they had saved
themselves by swimming. Believing that they were not far from the river
Columbia, they had followed the shore, living, on the way, upon
shell-fish and frogs; at last they arrived among strange Indians, who,
far from receiving them kindly, had killed eight of them and made the
rest prisoners; but the _Klemooks_, a neighboring tribe to the
_Clatsops_, hearing that they were captives, had ransomed them.

These facts must have occurred in March or April, 1811. The Indian who
gave us an account of them, appeared to have a great deal of
intelligence and knew some words of the English language. He added that
he had been at the Russian trading post at _Chitka_, that he had visited
the coast of California, the Sandwich islands, and even China.

About this time, old Comcomly sent to _Astoria_ for Mr. Stuart and me,
to come and cure him of a swelled throat, which, he said, afflicted him
sorely. As it was late in the day, we postponed till to-morrow going to
cure the chief of the Chinooks; and it was well we did; for, the same
evening, the wife of the Indian who had accompanied us in our voyage to
the Falls, sent us word that Comcomly was perfectly well, the pretended
_tonsillitis_ being only a pretext to get us in his power. This timely
advice kept us at home.


     Occupations at Astoria.--Return of a Portion of the Men of the
     Expedition to the Interior.--New Expedition.--Excursion in Search
     of three Deserters.

On the 26th of September our house was finished, and we took possession
of it. The mason work had at first caused us some difficulty; but at
last, not being able to make lime for want of lime-stones, we employed
blue clay as a substitute for mortar. This dwelling-house was
sufficiently spacious to hold all our company, and we had distributed it
in the most convenient manner that we could. It comprised a sitting, a
dining room, some lodging or sleeping rooms, and an apartment for the
men and artificers, all under the same roof. We also completed a shop
for the blacksmith, who till that time had worked in the open air.

The schooner, the construction of which had necessarily languished for
want of an adequate force at the ship-yard, was finally launched on the
2d of October, and named the _Dolly_, with the formalities usual on such
occasions. I was on that day at _Young's Bay_, where I saw the ruins of
the quarters erected by Captains Lewis and Clarke, in 1805-'06: they
were but piles of rough, unhewn logs, overgrown with parasite creepers.

On the evening of the 5th, Messrs. Pillet and M'Lellan arrived, from the
party of Mr. David Stuart, in a canoe manned by two of his men. They
brought, as passengers, Mr. Régis Bruguier, whom I had known in Canada
as a respectable country merchant, and an Iroquois family. Mr. Bruguier
had been a trader among the Indians on the Saskatchawine river, where he
had lost his outfit: he had since turned trapper, and had come into this
region to hunt beaver, being provided with traps and other needful
implements. The report which these gentlemen gave of the interior was
highly satisfactory: they had found the climate salubrious, and had
been well received by the natives. The latter possessed a great number
of horses, and Mr. Stuart had purchased several of these animals at a
low price. Ascending the river they had come to a pretty stream, which
the natives called _Okenakan_. Mr. Stuart had resolved to establish his
post on the bank of this river, and having erected a log-house, he
thought best to send back the above named persons, retaining with him,
for the winter, only Messrs. Ross and de Montigny, and two men.[K]

[Footnote K: One of these men bad been left with him by Mr. Thompson, in
exchange for a Sandwich-islander whom that gentleman proposed to take to
Canada, and thence to England.]

Meanwhile, the season being come when the Indians quit the seashore and
the banks of the Columbia, to retire into the woods and establish their
winter quarters along the small streams and rivers, we began to find
ourselves short of provisions, having received no supplies from them for
some time. It was therefore determined that Mr. R. Stuart should set out
in the schooner with Mr. Mumford, for the threefold purpose, of
obtaining all the provisions they could, cutting oaken staves for the
use of the cooper, and trading with the Indians up the river. They left
with this design on the 12th. At the end of five days Mr. Mumford
returned in a canoe of Indians. This man having wished to assume the
command, and to order (in the style of Captain Thorn) the person who had
engaged him to obey, had been sent back in consequence to _Astoria_.

On the 10th of November we discovered that three of our people had
absconded, viz., P.D. Jeremie, and the two Belleaux. They had leave to
go out shooting for two days, and carried off with them firearms and
ammunition, and a handsome light Indian canoe. As soon as their flight
was known, having procured a large canoe of the Chinooks, we embarked,
Mr. Matthews and I, with five natives, to pursue them, with orders to
proceed as far as the Falls, if necessary. On the 11th, having ascended
the river to a place called _Oak Point_, we overtook the schooner lying
at anchor, while Mr. Stuart was taking in a load of staves and
hoop-poles. Mr. Farnham joined our party, as well as one of the hands,
and thus reinforced, we pursued our way, journeying day and night, and
stopping at every Indian village, to make inquiries and offer a reward
for the apprehension of our runaways. Having reached the Falls without
finding any trace of them, and our provisions giving out, we retraced
our steps, and arrived on the 16th at Oak Point, which we found Mr.
Stuart ready to quit.

Meanwhile, the natives of the vicinity informed us that they had seen
the marks of shoes imprinted on the sand, at the confluence of a small
stream in the neighborhood. We got three small canoes, carrying two
persons each, and having ascertained that the information was correct,
after searching the environs during a part of the 17th, we ascended the
small stream as far as some high lands which are seen from Oak Point,
and which lie about eight or nine miles south of it. The space between
these high lands and the ridge crowned with oaks on the bank of the
Columbia, is a low and swampy land, cut up by an infinity of little
channels. Toward evening we returned on our path, to regain the
schooner; but instead of taking the circuitous way of the river, by
which we had come, we made for Oak Point by the most direct route,
through these channels; but night coming on, we lost ourselves. Our
situation became the most disagreeable that can be imagined. Being
unable to find a place where we could land, on account of the morass, we
were obliged to continue rowing, or rather turning round, in this
species of labyrinth, constantly kneeling in our little canoes, which
any unlucky movement would infallibly have caused to upset. It rained in
torrents and was dark as pitch. At last, after having wandered about
during a considerable part of the night, we succeeded in gaining the
edge of the mainland. Leaving there our canoes, because we could not
drag them (as we attempted) through the forest, we crossed the woods in
the darkness, tearing ourselves with the brush, and reached the
schooner, at about two in the morning, benumbed with cold and exhausted
with fatigue.

The 18th was spent in getting in the remainder of the lading of the
little vessel, and on the morning of the 19th we raised anchor, and
dropped down abreast of the Kreluit village, where some of the Indians
offering to aid us in the search after our deserters, Mr. Stuart put Mr.
Farnham and me on shore to make another attempt. We passed that day in
drying our clothes, and the next day embarked in a canoe, with one
_Kreluit_ man and a squaw, and ascended the river before described as
entering the Columbia at this place. We soon met a canoe of natives, who
informed us that our runaways had been made prisoners by the chief of a
tribe which dwells upon the banks of the Willamet river, and which they
called _Cathlanaminim_. We kept on and encamped on a beach of sand
opposite _Deer island_. There we passed a night almost as disagreeable
as that of the 17th-18th. We had lighted a fire, and contrived a shelter
of mats; but there came on presently a violent gust of wind, accompanied
with a heavy rain: our fire was put out, our mats were carried away, and
we could neither rekindle the one nor find the others: so that we had
to remain all night exposed to the fury of the storm. As soon as it was
day we re-embarked, and set ourselves to paddling with all our might to
warm ourselves. In the evening we arrived near the village where our
deserters were, and saw one of them on the skirts of it. We proceeded to
the hut of the chief, where we found all three, more inclined to follow
us than to remain as slaves among these barbarians. We passed the night
in the chief's lodge, not without some fear and some precaution; this
chief having the reputation of being a wicked man, and capable of
violating the rights of parties. He was a man of high stature and a good
mien, and proud in proportion, as we discovered by the chilling and
haughty manner in which he received us. Farnham and I agreed to keep
watch alternately, but this arrangement was superfluous, as neither of
us could sleep a wink for the infernal thumping and singing made by the
medicine men all night long, by a dying native. I had an opportunity of
seeing the sick man make his last will and testament: having caused to
be brought to him whatever he had that was most precious, his bracelets
of copper, his bead necklace, his bow and arrows and quiver, his nets,
his lines, his spear, his pipe, &c., he distributed the whole to his
most intimate friends, with a promise on their part, to restore them, if
he recovered.

On the 22d, after a great deal of talk, and infinite quibbling on the
part of the chief, we agreed with him for the ransom of our men. I had
visited every lodge in the village and found but few of the young men,
the greater part having gone on a fishing excursion; knowing, therefore,
that the chief could not be supported by his warriors, I was resolved
not be imposed upon, and as I knew where the firearms of the fugitives
had been deposited, I would have them at all hazards; but we were
obliged to give him all our blankets, amounting to eight, a brass
kettle, a hatchet, a small pistol, much out of order, a powder-horn, and
some rounds of ammunition: with these articles placed in a pile before
him, we demanded the men's clothing, the three fowling-pieces, and
their canoe, which he had caused to be hidden in the woods. Nothing but
our firmness compelled him to accept the articles offered in exchange;
but at last, with great reluctance, he closed the bargain, and suffered
us to depart in the evening with the prisoners and the property.

We all five (including the three deserters) embarked in the large canoe,
leaving our Kreluit and his wife to follow in the other, and proceeded
as far as the Cowlitzk, where we camped. The next day, we pursued our
journey homeward, only stopping at the Kreluit village to get some
provisions, and soon entered the group of islands which crowd the river
above Gray's bay. On one of these we stopped to amuse ourselves with
shooting some ducks, and meanwhile a smart breeze springing up, we split
open a double-rush mat (which had served as a bag), to make a sail, and
having cut a forked sapling for a mast, shipped a few boulders to stay
the foot of it, and spread our canvass to the wind. We soon arrived in
sight of Gray's bay, at a distance of fourteen or fifteen miles from our
establishment. We had, notwithstanding, a long passage across, the
river forming in this place, as I have before observed, a sort of lake,
by the recession of its shores on either hand: but the wind was fair. We
undertook, then, to cross, and quitted the island, to enter the broad,
lake-like expanse, just as the sun was going down, hoping to reach
Astoria in a couple of hours.

We were not long before we repented of our temerity: for in a short time
the sky became overcast, the wind increased till it blew with violence,
and meeting with the tide, caused the waves to rise prodigiously, which
broke over our wretched canoe, and filled it with water. We lightened it
as much as we could, by throwing overboard the little baggage we had
left, and I set the men to baling with our remaining brass kettle. At
last, after having been, for three hours, the sport of the raging
billows, and threatened every instant with being swallowed up, we had
the unexpected happiness of landing in a cove on the north shore of the
river. Our first care was to thank the Almighty for having delivered us
from so imminent a danger. Then, when we had secured the canoe, and
groped our way to the forest, where we made, with branches of trees, a
shelter against the wind--still continuing to blow with violence, and
kindled a great fire to warm us and dry our clothes. That did not
prevent us from shivering the rest of the night, even in congratulating
ourselves on the happiness of setting our foot on shore at the moment
when we began quite to despair of saving ourselves at all.

The morning of the 24th brought with it a clear sky, but no abatement in
the violence of the wind, till toward evening, when we again embarked,
and arrived with our deserters at the establishment, where they never
expected to see us again. Some Indians who had followed us in a canoe,
up to the moment when we undertook the passage across the evening
before, had followed the southern shore, and making the portage of the
isthmus of Tongue Point, had happily arrived at Astoria. These natives,
not doubting that we were lost, so reported us to Mr. M'Dougal;
accordingly that gentleman was equally overjoyed and astonished at
beholding us safely landed, which procured, not only for us, but for the
culprits, our companions, a cordial and hearty reception.


     Departure of Mr. R. Stuart for the Interior.--Occupations at
     Astoria.--Arrival of Messrs. Donald M'Kenzie and Robert
     M'Lellan.--Account of their Journey.--Arrival of Mr. Wilson P.

The natives having given us to understand that beaver was very abundant
in the country watered by the Willamet, Mr. R. Stuart procured a guide,
and set out, on the 5th of December, accompanied by Messrs. Pillet and
M'Gillis and a few of the men, to ascend that river and ascertain
whether or no it would be advisable to establish a trading-post on its
banks. Mr. R. Bruguier accompanied them to follow his pursuits as a

The season at which we expected the return of the Tonquin was now past,
and we began to regard as too probable the report of the Indians of
Gray's Harbor. We still flattered ourselves, notwithstanding, with the
hope that perhaps that vessel had sailed for the East Indies, without
touching at Astoria; but this was at most a conjecture.

The 25th, Christmas-day, passed very agreeably: we treated the men, on
that day, with the best the establishment afforded. Although that was no
great affair, they seemed well satisfied; for they had been restricted,
during the last few months, to a very meagre diet, living, as one may
say, on sun-dried fish. On the 27th, the schooner having returned from
her second voyage up the river, we dismantled her, and laid her up for
the winter at the entrance of a small creek.

The weather, which had been raining, almost without interruption, from
the beginning of October, cleared up on the evening of the 31st; and the
1st January, 1812, brought us a clear and serene sky. We proclaimed the
new year with a discharge of artillery. A small allowance of spirits was
served to the men, and the day passed in gayety, every one amusing
himself as well as he could.

The festival over, our people resumed their ordinary occupations: while
some cut timber for building, and others made charcoal for the
blacksmith, the carpenter constructed a barge, and the cooper made
barrels for the use of the posts we proposed to establish in the
interior. On the 18th, in the evening, two canoes full of white men
arrived at the establishment. Mr. M'Dougal, the resident agent, being
confined to his room by sickness, the duty of receiving the strangers
devolved on me. My astonishment was not slight, when one of the party
called me by name, as he extended his hand, and I recognised Mr. Donald
M'Kenzie, the same who had quitted Montreal, with Mr. W.P. Hunt, in the
month of July, 1810. He was accompanied by a Mr. Robert M'Lellan, a
partner, Mr. John Reed, a clerk, and eight _voyageurs_, or boatmen.
After having reposed themselves a little from their fatigues, these
gentlemen recounted to us the history of their journey, of which the
following is the substance.

Messrs. Hunt and M'Kenzie, quitting Canada, proceeded by way of
Mackinac and St. Louis, and ascended the Missouri, in the autumn of
1810, to a place on that river called _Nadoway_, where they wintered.
Here they were joined by Mr. R. M'Lellan, by a Mr. Crooks, and a Mr.
Müller, traders with the Indians of the South, and all having business
relations with Mr. Astor.

In the spring of 1811, having procured two large keel-boats, they
ascended the Missouri to the country of the _Arikaras_, or Rice Indians,
where they disposed of their boats and a great part of their luggage, to
a Spanish trader, by name _Manuel Lisa_. Having purchased of him, and
among the Indians, 130 horses, they resumed their route, in the
beginning of August, to the number of some sixty-five persons, to
proceed across the mountains to the river Columbia. Wishing to avoid the
_Blackfeet_ Indians, a warlike and ferocious tribe, who put to death all
the strangers that fall into their hands, they directed their course
southwardly, until they arrived at the 40th degree of latitude. Thence
they turned to the northwest, and arrived, by-and-by, at an old fort,
or trading post, on the banks of a little river flowing west. This post,
which was then deserted, had been established, as they afterward
learned, by a trader named Henry. Our people, not doubting that this
stream would conduct them to the Columbia, and finding it navigable,
constructed some canoes to descend it. Having left some hunters (or
trappers) near the old fort, with Mr. Miller, who, dissatisfied with the
expedition, was resolved to return to the United States, the party
embarked; but very soon finding the river obstructed with rapids and
waterfalls, after having upset some of the canoes, lost one man by
drowning, and also a part of their baggage, perceiving that the stream
was impracticable, they resolved to abandon their canoes and proceed on
foot. The enterprise was one of great difficulty, considering the small
stock of provisions they had left. Nevertheless, as there was no time to
lose in deliberation, after depositing in a _cache_ the superfluous part
of their baggage, they divided themselves into four companies, under
the command of Messrs. M'Kenzie, Hunt, M'Lellan and Crooks, and
proceeded to follow the course of the stream, which they named _Mad
river_, on account of the insurmountable difficulties it presented.
Messrs. M'Kenzie and M'Lellan took the right bank, and Messrs. Hunt and
Crook the left. They counted on arriving very quickly at the Columbia;
but they followed this Mad river for twenty days, finding nothing at all
to eat, and suffering horribly from thirst. The rocks between which the
river flows being so steep and abrupt as to prevent their descending to
quench their thirst (so that even their dogs died of it), they suffered
the torments of Tantalus, with this difference, that he had the water
which he could not reach above his head, while our travellers had it
beneath their feet. Several, not to die of this raging thirst, drank
their own urine: all, to appease the cravings of hunger, ate beaver
skins roasted in the evening at the camp-fire. They even were at last
constrained to eat their moccasins. Those on the or southeast bank,
suffered, however, less than the others, because they occasionally fell
in with Indians, utterly wild indeed, and who fled at their approach,
carrying off their horses. According to all appearances these savages
had never seen white men. Our travellers, when they arrived in sight of
the camp of one of these wandering hordes, approached it with as much
precaution, and with the same stratagem that they would have used with a
troop of wild beasts. Having thus surprised them, they would fire upon
the horses, some of which would fall; but they took care to leave some
trinkets on the spot, to indemnify the owners for what they had taken
from them by violence. This resource prevented the party from perishing
of hunger.

Mr. M'Kenzie having overtaken Mr. M'Lellan, their two companies pursued
the journey together. Very soon after this junction, they had an
opportunity of approaching sufficiently near to Mr. Hunt, who, as I have
remarked, was on the other bank, to speak to him, and inform him of
their distressed state. Mr. Hunt caused a canoe to be made of a
horse-hide; it was not, as one may suppose, very large; but they
succeeded, nevertheless, by that means, in conveying a little
horse-flesh to the people on the north bank. It was attempted, even, to
pass them across, one by one (for the skiff would not hold any more);
several had actually crossed to the south side, when, unhappily, owing
to the impetuosity of the current, the canoe capsized, a man was
drowned, and the two parties lost all hope of being able to unite. They
continued their route, therefore, each on their own side of the river.
In a short time those upon the north bank came to a more considerable
stream, which they followed down. They also met, very opportunely, some
Indians, who sold them a number of horses. They also encountered, in
these parts, a young American, who was deranged, but who sometimes
recovered his reason. This young man told them, in one of his lucid
intervals, that he was from Connecticut, and was named Archibald Pelton;
that he had come up the Missouri with Mr. Henry; that all the people at
the post established by that trader were massacred by the Blackfeet;
that he alone had escaped, and had been wandering, for three years
since, with the _Snake_ Indians.[L] Our people took this young man with
them. Arriving at the confluence with the Columbia, of the river whose
banks they were following, they perceived that it was the same which had
been called _Lewis river_, by the American captain of that name, in
1805. Here, then, they exchanged their remaining horses for canoes, and
so arrived at the establishment, safe and sound, it is true, but in a
pitiable condition to see; their clothes being nothing but fluttering

[Footnote L: A thoroughly savage and lazy tribe, inhabiting the plains
of the Columbia, between the 43d and 44th degrees of latitude.]

The narrative of these gentlemen interested us very much. They added,
that since their separation from Messrs. Hunt and Crooks, they had
neither seen nor heard aught of them, and believed it impossible that
they should arrive at the establishment before spring. They were
mistaken, however, for Mr. Hunt arrived on the 15th February, with
thirty men, one woman, and two children, having left Mr. Crooks, with
five men, among the _Snakes_. They might have reached Astoria almost as
soon as Mr. M'Kenzie, but they had passed from eight to ten days in the
midst of a plain, among some friendly Indians, as well to recruit their
strength, as to make search for two of the party, who had been lost in
the woods. Not finding them, they had resumed their journey, and struck
the banks of the Columbia a little lower down than the mouth of Lewis
river, where Mr. M'Kenzie had come out.

The arrival of so great a number of persons would have embarrassed us,
had it taken place a month sooner. Happily, at this time, the natives
were bringing in fresh fish in abundance. Until the 30th of March, we
were occupied in preparing triplicates of letters and other necessary
papers, in order to send Mr. Astor the news of our arrival, and of the
reunion of the two expeditions. The letters were intrusted to Mr. John
Reed, who quitted Astoria for St. Louis, in company with Mr.
M'Lellan--another discontented partner, who wished to disconnect himself
with the association,--and Mr. R. Stuart, who was conveying two
canoe-loads of goods for his uncle's post on the _Okenakan_. Messrs.
Farnham and M'Gillis set out at the same time, with a guide, and were
instructed to proceed to the _cache_,[M] where the overland travellers
had hidden their goods, near old Fort Henry, on the Mad river. I
profited by this opportunity to write to my family in Canada. Two days
after, Messrs. M'Kenzie and Matthews set out, with five or six men, as
hunters, to make an excursion up the Willamet river.

[Footnote M: These _caches_ are famous in all the narratives of overland
travel, whether for trade or discovery. The manner of making them is
described by Captains Lewis and Clarke, as follows: they choose a dry
situation, then describing a circle of some twenty inches diameter,
remove the sod as gently and carefully as possible. The hole is then
sunk a foot deep or more, perpendicularly; it is then worked gradually
wider as it descends, till it becomes six or seven feet deep, and shaped
like a kettle, or the lower part of a large still. As the earth is dug
out, it is handed up in a vessel, and carefully laid upon a skin or
cloth, in which it is carried away, and usually thrown into the river,
if there be one, or concealed so as to leave no trace of it. A floor of
three or four inches thick is then made of dry sticks, on which is
thrown hay or a hide perfectly dry. The goods, after being well aired
and dried, are laid down, and preserved from contact with the wall by a
layer of other dried sticks, till all is stowed away. When the hole is
nearly full, a hide is laid on top, and the earth is thrown upon this,
and beaten down, until, with the addition of the sod first removed, the
whole is on a level with the ground, and there remains not the slightest
appearance of an excavation. The first shower effaces every sign of what
has been done, and such a cache is safe for years.--ED.]


     Arrival of the Ship Beaver.--Unexpected Return of Messrs. D.
     Stuart, R. Stuart, M'Lelland, &c.--Cause of that Return.--Ship
     discharging.--New Expeditions.--Hostile Attitude of the
     Natives.--Departure of the Beaver.--Journeys of the Author.--His
     Occupations at the Establishment.

From the departure of the last outfit under Mr. M'Kenzie, nothing
remarkable took place at Astoria, till the 9th of May. On that day we
descried, to our great surprise and great joy, a sail in the offing,
opposite the mouth of the river. Forthwith Mr. M'Dougal was despatched
in a boat to the cape, to make the signals. On the morning of the 10th,
the weather being fine and the sea smooth, the boat pushed out and
arrived safely alongside. Soon after, the wind springing up, the vessel
made sail and entered the river, where she dropped anchor, in Baker's
Bay, at about 2 P.M. Toward evening the boat returned to the Fort, with
the following passengers: Messrs. John Clarke of Canada (a wintering
partner), Alfred Seton, George Ehnainger, a nephew of Mr. Astor
(clerks), and two men. We learned from these gentlemen that the vessel
was the _Beaver_, Captain _Cornelius Sowles_, and was consigned to us;
that she left New York on the 10th of October, and had touched, in the
passage, at _Massa Fuero_ and the Sandwich Isles. Mr. Clarke handed me
letters from my father and from several of my friends: I thus learned
that death had deprived me of a beloved sister.

On the morning of the 11th, we were strangely surprised by the return of
Messrs. D. Stuart, R. Stuart, R. M'Lelland, Crooks, Reed, and Farnham.
This return, as sudden as unlooked for, was owing to an unfortunate
adventure which befell the party, in ascending the river. When they
reached the Falls, where the portage is very long, some natives came
with their horses, to offer their aid in transporting the goods. Mr. R.
Stuart, not distrusting them, confided to their care some bales of
merchandise, which they packed on their horses: but, in making the
transit, they darted up a narrow path among the rocks, and fled at full
gallop toward the prairie, without its being possible to overtake them.
Mr. Stuart had several shots fired over their heads, to frighten them,
but it had no other effect than to increase their speed. Meanwhile our
own people continued the transportation of the rest of the goods, and of
the canoes; but as there was a great number of natives about, whom the
success and impunity of those thieves had emboldened, Mr. Stuart thought
it prudent to keep watch over the goods at the upper end of the portage,
while Messrs. M'Lellan and Reed made the rear-guard. The last named
gentleman, who carried, strapped to his shoulders, a tin box containing
the letters and despatches for New York with which he was charged,
happened to be at some distance from the former, and the Indians thought
it a favorable opportunity to attack him and carry off his box, the
brightness of which no doubt had tempted their cupidity. They threw
themselves upon him so suddenly that he had no time to place himself on
the defensive. After a short resistance, he received a blow on the head
from a war club, which felled him to the ground, and the Indians seized
upon their booty. Mr. M'Lellan perceiving what was done, fired his
carabine at one of the robbers and made him bite the dust; the rest took
to flight, but carried off the box notwithstanding. Mr. M'Lellan
immediately ran up to Mr. Reed; but finding the latter motionless and
bathed in blood, he hastened to rejoin Mr. Stuart, urging him to get
away from these robbers and murderers. But Mr. Stuart, being a
self-possessed and fearless man, would not proceed without ascertaining
if Mr. Reed were really dead, or if he were, without carrying off his
body; and notwithstanding the remonstrances of Mr. M'Lellan, taking his
way back to the spot where the latter had left his companion, had not
gone two hundred paces, when he met him coming toward them, holding his
bleeding head with both hands.[N]

[Footnote N: We were apprized of this unfortunate rencontre by natives
from up the river, on the 15th of April, but disbelieved it. [It is
curious to observe the want of military sagacity and precaution which
characterized the operations of these traders, compared with the exact
calculations of danger and the unfailing measures of defence, employed
from the very outset by Captains Lewis and Clarke in the same country.
There was one very audacious attempt at plunder made upon the latter;
but besides that it cost the Indians a life or two, the latter lost
property of their own far exceeding their booty. It is true that the
American officers had a stronger force at their disposal than our
merchants had, and that, too, consisting of experienced western hunters
and veteran soldiers of the frontier; but it is not less interesting to
note the difference, because it is easy to account for it.--J.V.H.]]

The object of Mr. Reed's journey being defeated by the loss of his
papers, he repaired, with the other gentlemen, to Mr. David Stuart's
trading post, at Okenakan, whence they had all set out, in the beginning
of May, to return to Astoria. Coming down the river, they fell in with
Mr. R. Crooks, and a man named _John Day_. It was observed in the
preceding chapter that Mr. Crooks remained with five men among some
Indians who were there termed _friendly_: but this gentleman and his
companion were the only members of that party who ever reached the
establishment: and they too arrived in a most pitiable condition, the
savages having stripped them of everything, leaving them but some bits
of deerskin to cover their nakedness.

On the 12th, the schooner, which had been sent down the river to the
Beaver's anchorage, returned with a cargo (being the stores intended for
Astoria), and the following passengers: to wit, Messrs. B. Clapp, J.C.
Halsey, C.A. Nichols, and R. Cox, clerks; five Canadians, seven
Americans (all mechanics), and a dozen Sandwich-islanders for the
service of the establishment. The captain of the Beaver sounded the
channel diligently for several days; but finding it scarcely deep enough
for so large a vessel, he was unwilling to bring her up to Astoria. It
was necessary, in consequence, to use the schooner as a lighter in
discharging the ship, and this tedious operation occupied us during the
balance of this month and a part of June.

Captain Sowles and Mr. Clarke confirmed the report of the destruction of
the Tonquin; they had learned it at Owhyhee, by means of a letter which
a certain Captain Ebbetts, in the employ of Mr. Astor, had left there.
It was nevertheless resolved that Mr. Hunt should embark upon the
"Beaver," to carry out the plan of an exact commercial survey of the
coast, which Mr. M'Kay had been sent to accomplish, and in particular to
visit for that purpose the Russian establishments at Chitka sound.

The necessary papers having been prepared anew, and being now ready to
expedite, were confided to Mr. R. Stuart, who was to cross the continent
in company with Messrs. Crooks and R. M'Lellan, partners dissatisfied
with the enterprise, and who had made up their minds to return to the
United States. Mr. Clark, accompanied by Messrs. Pillet, Donald,
M'Lellan, Farnham and Cox, was fitted out at the same time, with a
considerable assortment of merchandise, to form a new establishment on
the _Spokan_ or Clarke's river. Mr. M'Kenzie, with Mr. Seton, was
destined for the borders of _Lewis_ river: while Mr. David Stuart,
reinforced by Messrs. Matthews and M'Gillis, was to explore the region
lying north of his post at Okenakan. All these outfits being ready, with
the canoes, boatmen, and hunters, the flotilla quitted Astoria on the
30th of June, in the afternoon, having on board sixty-two persons. The
sequel will show the result of the several expeditions.

During the whole month of July, the natives (seeing us weakened no doubt
by these outfits), manifested their hostile intentions so openly that we
were obliged to be constantly on our guard. We constructed covered ways
inside our palisades, and raised our bastions or towers another story.
The alarm became so serious toward the latter end of the month that we
doubled our sentries day and night, and never allowed more than two or
three Indians at a time within our gates.

The Beaver was ready to depart on her coasting voyage at the end of
June, and on the 1st of July Mr. Hunt went on board: but westerly winds
prevailing all that month, it was not till the 4th of August that she
was able to get out of the river; being due again by the end of October
to leave her surplus goods and take in our furs for market.

The months of August and September were employed in finishing a house
forty-five feet by thirty, shingled and perfectly tight, as a hospital
for the sick, and lodging house for the mechanics.

Experience having taught us that from the beginning of October to the
end of January, provisions were brought in by the natives in very small
quantity, it was thought expedient that I should proceed in the
schooner, accompanied by Mr. Clapp, on a trading voyage up the river to
secure a cargo of dried fish. We left Astoria on the 1st of October,
with a small assortment of merchandise. The trip was highly successful:
we found the game very abundant, killed a great quantity of swans,
ducks, foxes, &c., and returned to Astoria on the 20th, with a part of
our venison, wild fowl, and bear meat, besides seven hundred, and fifty
smoked salmon, a quantity of the _Wapto_ root (so called by the
natives), which is found a good substitute for potatoes, and four
hundred and fifty skins of beaver and other animals of the furry tribe.

The encouragement derived from this excursion, induced us to try a
second, and I set off this time alone, that is, with a crew of five men
only, and an Indian boy, son of the old chief Comcomly. This second
voyage proved anything but agreeable. We experienced continual rains,
and the game was much less abundant, while the natives had mostly left
the river for their wintering grounds. I succeeded, nevertheless, in
exchanging my goods for furs and dried fish, and a small supply of dried
venison: and returned, on the 15th of November, to Astoria, where the
want of fresh provisions began to be severely felt, so that several of
the men were attacked with scurvy.

Messrs. Halsey and Wallace having been sent on the 23d, with fourteen
men, to establish a trading post on the Willamet, and Mr. M'Dougal being
confined to his room by sickness, Mr. Clapp and I were left with the
entire charge of the post at Astoria, and were each other's only
resource for society. Happily Mr. Clapp was a man of amiable character,
of a gay, lively humor, and agreeable conversation. In the intervals of
our daily duties, we amused ourselves with music and reading; having
some instruments and a choice library. Otherwise we should have passed
our time in a state of insufferable ennui, at this rainy season, in the
midst of the deep mud which surrounded us, and which interdicted the
pleasure of a promenade outside the buildings.


     Uneasiness respecting the "Beaver."--News of the Declaration of War
     between Great Britain and the United States.--Consequences of that
     Intelligence.--Different Occurrences.--Arrival of two Canoes of the
     Northwest Company.--Preparations for abandoning the
     Country.--Postponement of Departure.--Arrangement with Mr. J.G.

The months of October, November, and December passed away without any
news of the "Beaver," and we began to fear that there had happened to
her, as to the Tonquin, some disastrous accident. It will be seen, in
the following chapter, why this vessel did not return to Astoria in the
autumn of 1812.

On the 15th of January, Mr. M'Kenzie arrived from the interior, having
abandoned his trading establishment, after securing his stock of goods
in a _cache_. Before his departure he had paid a visit to Mr. Clark on
the Spokan, and while there had learned the news, which he came to
announce to us, that hostilities had actually commenced between Great
Britain and the United States. The news had been brought by some
gentlemen of the Northwest Company, who handed to them a copy of the
Proclamation of the President to that effect.

When we learned this news, all of us at Astoria who were British
subjects and Canadians, wished ourselves in Canada; but we could not
entertain even the thought of transporting ourselves thither, at least
immediately: we were separated from our country by an immense space; and
the difficulties of the journey at this season were insuperable:
besides, Mr. Astor's interests had to be consulted first. We held,
therefore, a sort of council of war, to which the clerks of the factory
were invited _pro formâ_, as they had no voice in the deliberations.
Having maturely weighed our situation; after having seriously considered
that being almost to a man British subjects, we were trading,
notwithstanding, under the American flag: and foreseeing the
improbability, or rather, to cut the matter short, the impossibility
that Mr. Astor could send us further supplies or reinforcements while
the war lasted, as most of the ports of the United States would
inevitably be blockaded by the British; we concluded to abandon the
establishment in the ensuing spring, or at latest, in the beginning of
the summer. We did not communicate these resolutions to the men, lest
they should in consequence abandon their labor: but we discontinued,
from that moment, our trade with the natives, except for provisions; as
well because we had no longer a large stock of goods on hand, as for the
reason that we had already more furs than we could carry away overland.

So long as we expected the return of the vessel, we had served out to
the people a regular supply of bread: we found ourselves in consequence,
very short of provisions, on the arrival of Mr. M'Kenzie and his men.
This augmentation in the number of mouths to be fed compelled us to
reduce the ration of each man to four ounces of flour and half a pound
of dried fish _per diem_: and even to send a portion of the hands to
pass the rest of the winter with Messrs. Wallace and Halsey on the
Willamet, where game was plenty.

Meanwhile, the sturgeon having begun to enter the river, I left, on the
13th of February, to fish for them; and on the 15th sent the first
boat-load to the establishment; which proved a very timely succor to the
men, who for several days had broken off work from want of sufficient
food. I formed a camp near Oak Point, whence I continued to despatch
canoe after canoe of fine fresh fish to Astoria, and Mr. M'Dougal sent
to me thither all the men who were sick of scurvy, for the
re-establishment of their health.

On the 20th of March, Messrs. Reed and Seton, who had led a part of our
men to the post on the Willamet, to subsist them, returned to Astoria,
with a supply of dried venison. These gentlemen spoke to us in glowing
terms of the country of the Willamet as charming, and abounding in
beaver, elk, and deer; and informed us that Messrs. Wallace and Halsey
had constructed a dwelling and trading house, on a great prairie, about
one hundred and fifty miles from the confluence of that river with the
Columbia. Mr. M'Kenzie and his party quitted us again on the 31st, to
make known the resolutions recently adopted at Astoria, to the gentlemen
who were wintering in the interior.

On the 11th of April two birch-bark canoes, bearing the British flag,
arrived at the factory. They were commanded by Messrs. J.G. M'Tavish and
Joseph Laroque, and manned by nineteen Canadian _voyageurs_. They landed
on a point of land under the guns of the fort, and formed their camp. We
invited these gentlemen to our quarters and learned from them the object
of their visit. They had come to await the arrival of the ship _Isaac
Todd_, despatched from Canada by the Northwest Company, in October,
1811, with furs, and from England in March, 1812, with a cargo of
suitable merchandise for the Indian trade. They had orders to wait at
the mouth of the Columbia till the month of July, and then to return, if
the vessel did not make her appearance by that time. They also informed
us that the natives near Lewis river had shown them fowling-pieces,
gun-flints, lead, and powder; and that they had communicated this news
to Mr. M'Kenzie, presuming that the Indians had discovered and plundered
his _cache_; which turned out afterward to be the case.

The month of May was occupied in preparations for our departure from the
Columbia. On the 25th, Messrs. Wallace and Halsey returned from their
winter quarters with seventeen packs of furs, and thirty-two bales of
dried venison. The last article was received with a great deal of
pleasure, as it would infallibly be needed for the journey we were about
to undertake. Messrs. Clarke, D. Stuart and M'Kenzie also arrived, in
the beginning of June, with one hundred and forty packs of furs, the
fruit of two years' trade at the post on the _Okenakan_, and one year on
the _Spokan_.[O]

[Footnote O: The profits of the last establishment were slender; because
the people engaged at it were obliged to subsist on horse-flesh, and
they ate ninety horses during the winter.]

The wintering partners (that is to say, Messrs. Clarke and David Stuart)
dissenting from the proposal to abandon the country as soon as we
intended, the thing being (as they observed) impracticable, from the
want of provisions for the journey and horses to transport the goods;
the project was deferred, as to its execution, till the following April.
So these gentlemen, having taken a new lot of merchandise, set out again
for their trading posts on the 7th of July. But Mr. M'Kenzie, whose
goods had been pillaged by the natives (it will be remembered), remained
at Astoria, and was occupied with the care of collecting as great a
quantity as possible of dried salmon from the Indians. He made seven or
eight voyages up the river for that purpose, while we at the Fort were
busy in baling the beaver-skins and other furs, in suitable packs for
horses to carry. Mr. Reed, in the meantime, was sent on to the
mountain-passes where Mr. Miller had been left with the trappers, to
winter, there, and to procure as many horses as he could from the
natives for our use in the contemplated journey. He was furnished for
this expedition with three Canadians, and a half-breed hunter named
_Daion_, the latter accompanied by his wife and two children. This man
came from the lower Missouri with Mr. Hunt in 1811-'12.

Our object being to provide ourselves, before quitting the country, with
the food and horses necessary for the journey; in order to avoid all
opposition on the part of the Northwest Company, we entered into an
arrangement with Mr. M'Tavish. This gentleman having represented to us
that he was destitute of the necessary goods to procure wherewith to
subsist his party on their way homeward, we supplied him from our
warehouse, payment to be made us in the ensuing spring, either in furs
or in bills of exchange on their house in Canada.


     Arrival of the Ship "Albatross."--Reasons for the Non-Appearance of
     the Beaver at Astoria.--Fruitless Attempt of Captain Smith on a
     Former Occasion.--Astonishment and Regret of Mr. Hunt at the
     Resolution of the Partners.--His Departure.--Narrative of the
     Destruction of the Tonquin.--Causes of that Disaster.--Reflections.

On the 4th of August, contrary to all expectation, we saw a sail at the
mouth of the river. One of our gentlemen immediately got into the barge,
to ascertain her nationality and object: but before he had fairly
crossed the river, we saw her pass the bar and direct her course toward
Astoria, as if she were commanded by a captain to whom the intricacies
of the channel were familiar. I had stayed at the Fort with Mr. Clapp
and four men. As soon as we had recognised the American flag, not
doubting any longer that it was a ship destined for the factory, we
saluted her with three guns. She came to anchor over against the fort,
but on the opposite side of the river, and returned our salute. In a
short time after, we saw, or rather we heard, the oars of a boat (for it
was already night) that came toward us. We expected her approach with
impatience, to know who the stranger was, and what news she brought us.
Soon we were relieved from our uncertainty by the appearance of Mr.
Hunt, who informed us that the ship was called the _Albatross_ and was
commanded by Captain _Smith_.

It will be remembered that Mr. Hunt had sailed from Astoria on board the
"Beaver," on the 4th of August of the preceding year, and should have
returned with that vessel, in the month of October of the same year. We
testified to him our surprise that he had not returned at the time
appointed, and expressed the fears which we had entertained in regard to
his fate, as well as that of the Beaver itself: and in reply he
explained to us the reasons why neither he nor Captain Sowles had been
able to fulfil the promise which they had made us.

After having got clear of the river Columbia, they had scudded to the
north, and had repaired to the Russian post of Chitka, where they had
exchanged a part of their goods for furs. They had made with the
governor of that establishment, Barnoff by name, arrangements to supply
him regularly with all the goods of which he had need, and to send him
every year a vessel for that purpose, as well as for the transportation
of his surplus furs to the East Indies. They had then advanced still
further to the north, to the coast of _Kamskatka_; and being there
informed that some Kodiak hunters had been left on some adjacent isles,
called the islands of St. Peter and St. Paul, and that these hunters had
not been visited for three years, they determined to go thither, and
having reached those isles, they opened a brisk trade, and secured no
less than eighty thousand skins of the South-sea seal. These operations
had consumed a great deal of time; the season was already far advanced;
ice was forming around them, and it was not without having incurred
considerable dangers that they succeeded in making their way out of
those latitudes. Having extricated themselves from the frozen seas of
the north, but in a shattered condition, they deemed it more prudent to
run for the Sandwich isles, where they arrived after enduring a
succession of severe gales. Here Mr. Hunt disembarked, with the men who
had accompanied him, and who did not form a part of the ship's crew; and
the vessel, after undergoing the necessary repairs, set sail for Canton.

Mr. Hunt had then passed nearly six months at the Sandwich islands,
expecting the annual ship from New York, and never imagining that war
had been declared. But at last, weary of waiting so long to no purpose,
he had bought a small schooner of one of the chiefs of the isle of
Wahoo, and was engaged in getting her ready to sail for the mouth of the
Columbia, when four sails hove in sight, and presently came to anchor in
_Ohetity bay_. He immediately, went on board of one of them, and learned
that they came from the Indies, whence they had sailed precipitately, to
avoid the English cruisers. He also learned from the captain of the
vessel he boarded, that the Beaver had arrived in Canton some days
before the news of the declaration of war. This Captain Smith, moreover,
had on board some cases of nankeens and other goods shipped by Mr.
Astor's agent at Canton for us. Mr. Hunt then chartered the Albatross to
take him with his people and the goods to the Columbia. That gentleman
had not been idle during the time that he sojourned at Wahoo: he brought
us 35 barrels of salt pork or beef, nine tierces of rice, a great
quantity of dried _Taro_, and a good supply of salt.

As I knew the channel of the river, I went on board the Albatross, and
piloted her to the old anchorage of the Tonquin, under the guns of the
Fort, in order to facilitate the landing of the goods.

Captain Smith informed us that in 1810, a year before the founding of
our establishment, he had entered the river in the same vessel, and
ascended it in boats as far as Oak Point; and that he had attempted to
form an establishment there; but the spot which he chose for building,
and on which he had even commenced fencing for a garden, being
overflowed in the summer freshet, he had been forced to abandon his
project and re-embark. We had seen, in fact, at Oak Point, some traces
of this projected establishment. The bold manner in which this captain
had entered the river was now accounted for.

Captain Smith had chartered his vessel to a Frenchman named _Demestre_,
who was then a passenger on board of her, to go and take a cargo of
sandal wood at the _Marquesas_, where that gentleman had left some men
to collect it, the year before. He could not, therefore, comply with the
request we made him, to remain during the summer with us, in order to
transport our goods and people, as soon as they could be got together,
to the Sandwich islands.

Mr. Hunt was surprised beyond measure, when we informed him of the
resolution we had taken of abandoning the country: he blamed us severely
for having acted with so much precipitation, pointing out that the
success of the late coasting voyage, and the arrangements we had made
with the Russians, promised a most advantageous trade, which it was a
thousand pities to sacrifice, and lose the fruits of the hardships he
had endured and the dangers he had braved, at one fell swoop, by this
rash measure. Nevertheless, seeing the partners were determined to abide
by their first resolution, and not being able, by himself alone, to
fulfil his engagements to Governor Barnoff, he consented to embark once
more, in order to seek a vessel to transport our heavy goods, and such
of us as wished to return by sea. He sailed, in fact, on the Albatross,
at the end of the month. My friend Clapp embarked with him: they were,
in the first instance, to run down the coast of California, in the hope
of meeting there some of the American vessels which frequently visit
that coast to obtain provisions from the Spaniards.

Some days after the departure of Mr. Hunt, the old one-eyed chief
Comcomly came to tell us that an Indian of _Gray's Harbor_, who had
sailed on the Tonquin in 1811, and who was the only soul that had
escaped the massacre of the crew of that unfortunate vessel, had
returned to his tribe. As the distance from the River Columbia to Gray's
Harbor was not great, we sent for this native. At first he made
considerable difficulty about following our people, but was finally
persuaded. He arrived at Astoria, and related to us the circumstances of
that sad catastrophe, nearly as follows:[P]

"After I had embarked on the Tonquin," said he, "that vessel sailed for
_Nootka_.[Q] Having arrived opposite a large village called _Newity_, we
dropped anchor. The natives having invited Mr. M'Kay to land, he did so,
and was received in the most cordial manner: they even kept him several
days at their village, and made him lie, every night, on a couch of
sea-otter skins. Meanwhile the captain was engaged in trading with such
of the natives as resorted to his ship: but having had a difficulty with
one of the principal chiefs in regard to the price of certain goods, he
ended by putting the latter out of the ship, and in the act of so
repelling him, struck him on the face with the roll of furs which he had
brought to trade. This act was regarded by that chief and his followers
as the most grievous insult, and they resolved to take vengeance for it.
To arrive more surely at their purpose, they dissembled their
resentment, and came, as usual, on board the ship. One day, very early
in the morning, a large pirogue, containing about a score of natives,
came alongside: every man had in his hand a packet of furs, and held it
over his head as a sign that they came to trade. The watch let them come
on deck. A little after, arrived a second pirogue, carrying about as
many men as the other. The sailors believed that these also came to
exchange their furs, and allowed them to mount the ship's side like the
first. Very soon, the pirogues thus succeeding one another, the crew
saw themselves surrounded by a multitude of savages, who came upon the
deck from all sides. Becoming alarmed at the appearance of things, they
went to apprize the captain and Mr. M'Kay, who hastened to the poop. I
was with them," said the narrator, "and fearing, from the great
multitude of Indians whom I saw already on the deck, and from the
movements of those on shore, who were hurrying to embark in their
canoes, to approach the vessel, and from the women being left in charge
of the canoes of those who had arrived, that some evil design was on
foot, I communicated my suspicions to Mr. M'Kay, who himself spoke to
the captain. The latter affected an air of security, and said that with
the firearms on board, there was no reason to fear even a greater number
of Indians. Meanwhile these gentlemen had come on deck unarmed, without
even their sidearms. The trade, nevertheless, did not advance; the
Indians offered less than was asked, and pressing with their furs close
to the captain, Mr. M'Kay, and Mr. Lewis, repeated the word _Makoke!
Makoke!_ "Trade! Trade!" I urged the gentlemen to put to sea, and the
captain, at last, seeing the number of Indians increase every moment,
allowed himself to be persuaded: he ordered a part of the crew to raise
the anchor, and the rest to go aloft and unfurl the sails. At the same
time he warned the natives to withdraw, as the ship was going to sea. A
fresh breeze was then springing up, and in a few moments more their prey
would have escaped them; but immediately on receiving this notice, by a
preconcerted signal, the Indians, with a terrific yell, drew forth the
knives and war-bludgeons they had concealed in their bundles of furs,
and rushed upon the crew of the ship. Mr. Lewis was struck, and fell
over a bale of blankets. Mr. M'Kay, however, was the first victim whom
they sacrificed to their fury. Two savages, whom, from the crown of the
poop, where I was seated, I had seen follow this gentleman step by step,
now cast themselves upon him, and having given him a blow on the head
with a _potumagan_ (a kind of sabre which is described a little below),
felled him to the deck, then took him up and flung him into the sea,
where the women left in charge of the canoes, quickly finished him with
their paddles. Another set flung themselves upon the captain, who
defended himself for a long time with his pocket-knife, but, overpowered
by numbers, perished also under the blows of these murderers. I next saw
(and that was the last occurrence of which I was witness before quitting
the ship) the sailors who were aloft, slip down by the rigging, and get
below through the steerage hatchway. They were five, I think, in number,
and one of them, in descending, received a knife-stab in the back. I
then jumped overboard, to escape a similar fate to that of the captain
and Mr. M'Kay: the women in the canoes, to whom I surrendered myself as
a slave, took me in, and bade me hide myself under some mats which were
in the pirogues; which I did. Soon after, I heard the discharge of
firearms, immediately upon which the Indians fled from the vessel, and
pulled for the shore as fast as possible, nor did they venture to go
alongside the ship again the whole of that day. The next day, haying
seen four men lower a boat, and pull away from the ship, they sent some
pirogues in chase: but whether those men were overtaken and murdered, or
gained the open sea and perished there, I never could learn. Nothing
more was seen stirring on board the Tonquin; the natives pulled
cautiously around her, and some of the more daring went on board; at
last, the savages, finding themselves absolute masters of the ship,
rushed on board in a crowd to pillage her. But very soon, when there
were about four or five hundred either huddled together on deck, or
clinging to the sides, all eager for plunder, the ship blew up with a
horrible noise. "I was on the shore," said the Indian, "when the
explosion took place, saw the great volume of smoke burst forth in the
spot where the ship had been, and high in the air above, arms, legs,
heads and bodies, flying in every direction. The tribe acknowledged a
loss of over two hundred of their people on that occasion. As for me I
remained their prisoner, and have been their slave for two years. It is
but now that I have been ransomed by my friends. I have told you the
truth, and hope you will acquit me of having in any way participated in
that bloody affair."

[Footnote P: It being understood, of course, that I render into
civilized expressions the language of this barbarian, and represent by
words and phrases what he could only convey by gestures or by signs.
[The _naïveté_ of those notes, and of the narrative in these passages,
is amusing.--ED.]]

[Footnote Q: A great village or encampment of Indians, among whom the
Spaniards had sent missionaries under the conduct of Signor Quadra; but
whence the latter were chased by Captain Vancouver, in 1792, as
mentioned in the Introduction.]

Our Indian having finished his discourse, we made him presents
proportioned to the melancholy satisfaction he had given us in
communicating the true history of the sad fate of our former companions,
and to the trouble he had taken in coming to us; so that he returned
apparently well satisfied with our liberality.

According to the narrative of this Indian, Captain Thorn, by his abrupt
manner and passionate temper, was the primary cause of his own death and
that of all on board his vessel. What appears certain at least, is, that
he was guilty of unpardonable negligence and imprudence, in not causing
the boarding netting to be rigged, as is the custom of all the
navigators who frequent this coast, and in suffering (contrary to his
instructions) too great a number of Indians to come on board at once.[R]

[Footnote R: It is equally evident that even at the time when Captain
Thorn was first notified of the dangerous crowd and threatening
appearance of the natives, a display of firearms would have sufficed to
prevent an outbreak. Had he come on deck with Mr. M'Kay and Mr. Lewis,
each armed with a musket, and a couple of pistols at the belt, it is
plain from the timidity the savages afterward displayed, that he might
have cleared the ship, probably without shedding a drop of blood.--ED.]

Captain Smith, of the Albatross, who had seen the wreck of the Tonquin,
in mentioning to us its sad fate, attributed the cause of the disaster
to the rash conduct of a Captain Ayres, of Boston. That navigator had
taken off, as I have mentioned already, ten or a dozen natives of
New-itty, as hunters, with a promise of bringing them back to their
country, which promise he inhumanly broke by leaving them on some desert
islands in Sir Francis Drake's Bay. The countrymen of these
unfortunates, indignant at the conduct of the American captain, had
sworn to avenge themselves on the first white men who appeared among
them. Chance willed it that our vessel was the first to enter that bay,
and the natives but too well executed on our people their project of

Whatever may, have been the first and principal cause of this misfortune
(for doubtless it is necessary to suppose more than one), seventeen
white men and twelve Sandwich-Islanders, were massacred: not one escaped
from the butchery, to bring us the news of it, but the Indian of _Gray's
Harbor_. The massacre of our people was avenged, it is true, by the
destruction of ten times the number of their murderers; but this
circumstance, which could perhaps gladden the heart of a savage, was a
feeble consolation (if it was any) for civilized men. The death of Mr.
Alexander M'Kay was an irreparable loss to the Company, which would
probably have been dissolved by the remaining partners, but for the
arrival of the energetic Mr. Hunt. Interesting as was the recital of the
Indian of Gray's Harbor throughout, when he came to the unhappy end of
that estimable man, marks of regret were visibly painted on the
countenances of all who listened.

At the beginning of September, Mr. M'Kenzie set off, with Messrs.
Wallace and Seton, to carry a supply of goods to the gentlemen wintering
in the interior, as well as to inform them of the arrangements
concluded with Mr. Hunt, and to enjoin them to send down all their furs,
and all the Sandwich-Islanders, that the former might be shipped for
America, and the latter sent back to their country.


     It will never be known how or by whom the _Tonquin_ was blown up.
     Some pretend to say that it was the work of James Lewis, but that
     is impossible, for it appears from the narrative of the Indian that
     he was one of the first persons murdered. It will be recollected
     that five men got between decks from aloft, during the affray, and
     four only were seen to quit the ship afterward in the boat. The
     presumption was that the missing man must have done it, and in
     further conversation with the Gray's Harbor Indian, he inclined to
     that opinion, and even affirmed that the individual was the ship's
     armorer, _Weeks_. It might also have been accidental. There was a
     large quantity of powder in the run immediately under the cabin,
     and it is not impossible that while the Indians were intent on
     plunder, in opening some of the kegs they may have set fire to the
     contents. Or again, the men, before quitting the ship, may have
     lighted a slow train, which is the most likely supposition of all.


     Arrival of a Number of Canoes of the Northwest Company.--Sale of
     the Establishment at Astoria to that Company.--Canadian
     News.--Arrival of the British Sloop-of-War "Raccoon."--Accident on
     Board that Vessel.--The Captain takes Formal Possession of
     Astoria.--Surprise and Discontent of the Officers and
     Crew.--Departure of the "Raccoon."

A few days after Mr. M'Kenzie left us, we were greatly surprised by the
appearance of two canoes bearing the British flag, with a third between
them, carrying the flag of the United States, all rounding Tongue Point.
It was no other than Mr. M'Kenzie himself, returning with Messrs. J.G.
M'Tavish and Angus Bethune, of the Northwest Company. He had met these
gentlemen near the first rapids, and had determined to return with them
to the establishment, in consequence of information which they gave him.
Those gentlemen were in _light_ canoes (i.e., without any lading), and
formed the vanguard to a flotilla of eight, loaded with furs, under the
conduct of Messrs. John Stuart and M'Millan.

Mr. M'Tavish came to our quarters at the factory, and showed Mr.
M'Dougal a letter which had been addressed to the latter by Mr. Angus
Shaw, his uncle, and one of the partners of the Northwest Company. Mr.
Shaw informed his nephew that the ship _Isaac Todd_ had sailed from
London, with letters of _marque_, in the month of March, in company with
the frigate _Phoebe_, having orders from the government to seize our
establishment, which had been represented to the lords of the admiralty
as an important colony founded by the American government. The eight
canoes left behind, came up meanwhile, and uniting themselves to the
others, they formed a camp of about seventy-five men, at the bottom of a
little bay or cove, near our factory. As they were destitute of
provisions, we supplied them; but Messrs. M'Dougal and M'Kenzie
affecting to dread a surprise from this British force under our guns,
we kept strictly on our guard; for we were inferior in point of numbers,
although our position was exceedingly advantageous.

As the season advanced, and their ship did not arrive, our new neighbors
found themselves in a very disagreeable situation, without food, or
merchandise wherewith to procure it from the natives; viewed by the
latter with a distrustful and hostile eye, as being our enemies and
therefore exposed to attack and plunder on their part with impunity;
supplied with good hunters, indeed, but wanting ammunition to render
their skill available. Weary, at length, of applying to us incessantly
for food (which we furnished them with a sparing hand), unable either to
retrace their steps through the wilderness or to remain in their present
position, they came to the conclusion of proposing to buy of us the
whole establishment.

Placed, as we were, in the situation of expecting, day by day, the
arrival of an English ship-of-war to seize upon all we possessed, we
listened to their propositions. Several meetings and discussions took
place; the negotiations were protracted by the hope of one party that
the long-expected armed force would arrive, to render the purchase
unnecessary, and were urged forward by the other in order to conclude
the affair before that occurrence should intervene; at length the price
of the goods and furs in the factory was agreed upon, and the bargain
was signed by both parties on the 23d of October. The gentlemen of the
Northwest Company took possession of Astoria, agreeing to pay the
servants of the Pacific Fur Company (the name which had been chosen by
Mr. Astor), the arrears of their wages, to be deducted from the price of
the goods which we delivered, to supply them with provisions, and give a
free passage to those who wished to return to Canada over land. The
American colors were hauled down from the factory, and the British run
up, to the no small chagrin and mortification of those who were American

It was thus, that after having passed the seas, and suffered all sorts
of fatigues and privations, I lost in a moment all my hopes of fortune.
I could not help remarking that we had no right to expect such
treatment on the part of the British government, after the assurances we
had received from Mr. Jackson, his majesty's _chargé d'affaires_
previously to our departure from New York. But as I have just intimated,
the agents of the Northwest Company had exaggerated the importance of
the factory in the eyes of the British ministry; for if the latter had
known what it really was--a mere trading-post--and that nothing but the
rivalry of the fur-traders of the Northwest Company was interested in
its destruction, they would never have taken umbrage at it, or at least
would never have sent a maritime expedition to destroy it. The sequel
will show that I was not mistaken in this opinion.

The greater part of the servants of the Pacific Fur Company entered the
service of the Company of the Northwest: the rest preferred to return to
their country, and I was of the number of these last. Nevertheless, Mr.
M'Tavish, after many ineffectual attempts to persuade me to remain with
them, having intimated that the establishment could not dispense with
my services, as I was the only person who could assist them in their
trade, especially for provisions, of which they would soon be in the
greatest need, I agreed with them (without however relinquishing my
previous engagement with Mr. Astor's agents) for five months, that is to
say, till the departure of the expedition which was to ascend the
Columbia in the spring, and reach Canada by way of the Rocky Mountains
and the rivers of the interior. Messrs. John Stuart and M'Kenzie set off
about the end of this month, for the interior, in order that the latter
might make over to the former the posts established on the Spokan and

On the 15th of November, Messrs. Alexander Stuart and Alexander Henry,
both partners of the N.W. Company, arrived at the factory, in a couple
of bark canoes manned by sixteen _voyageurs_. They had set out from
_Fort William_, on Lake Superior, in the month of July. They brought us
Canadian papers, by which we learned that the British arms so far had
been in the ascendant. They confirmed also the news that an English
frigate was coming to take possession of our quondam establishment; they
were even surprised not to see the _Isaac Todd_ lying in the road.

On the morning of the 30th, we saw a large vessel standing in under
_Cape Disappointment_ (which proved in this instance to deserve its
name); and soon after that vessel came to anchor in _Baker's bay_. Not
knowing whether it was a friendly or a hostile sail, we thought it
prudent to send on board Mr. M'Dougal in a canoe, manned by such of the
men as had been previously in the service of the Pacific Fur Company,
with injunctions to declare themselves Americans, if the vessel was
American, and Englishmen in the contrary case. While this party was on
its way, Mr. M'Tavish caused all the furs which were marked with the
initials of the N.W. Company to be placed on board the two barges at the
Fort, and sent them up the river above Tongue Point, where they were to
wait for a concerted signal, that was to inform them whether the
new-comers were friends or foes. Toward midnight, Mr. Halsey, who had
accompanied Mr. M'Dougal to the vessel, returned to the Fort, and
announced to us that she was the British sloop-of-war _Raccoon_, of 26
guns, commanded by Captain Black, with a complement of 120 men, fore and
aft. Mr. John M'Donald, a partner of the N.W. Company, was a passenger
on the Raccoon, with five _voyageurs_, destined for the Company's
service. He had left England in the frigate _Phoebe_, which had sailed
in company with the _Isaac Todd_ as far as Rio Janeiro; but there
falling in with the British squadron, the admiral changed the
destination of the frigate, despatching the sloops-of-war _Raccoon_ and
_Cherub_ to convoy the Isaac Todd, and sent the Phoebe to search for the
American commodore Porter, who was then on the Pacific, capturing all
the British whalers and other trading vessels he met with. These four
vessels then sailed in company as far as Cape Horn, they parted, after
agreeing on the island of _Juan Fernandez_ as a _rendezvous_. The three
ships-of-war met, in fact, at that island; but after having a long time
waited in vain for the _Isaac Todd_, Commodore Hillier (Hillyer?) who
commanded this little squadron, hearing of the injury inflicted by
Commodore Porter, on the British commerce, and especially on the whalers
who frequent these seas, resolved to go in quest of him in order to give
him combat; and retaining the _Cherub_ to assist him, detailed the
Raccoon to go and destroy the American establishment on the River
Columbia, being assured by Mr. M'Donald that a single sloop-of-war would
be sufficient for that service.

Mr. M'Donald had consequently embarked, with his people, on board the
Raccoon. This gentleman informed us that they had experienced frightful
weather in doubling the Cape, and that he entertained serious
apprehensions for the safety of the Isaac Todd, but that if she was
safe, we might expect her to arrive in the river in two or three weeks.
The signal gun agreed upon, having been fired, for the return of the
barges, Mr. M'Tavish came back to the Port with the furs, and was
overjoyed to learn the arrival of Mr. M'Donald.

On the 1st of December the Raccoon's gig came up to the fort, bringing
Mr. M'Donald (surnamed _Bras Croche_, or crooked arm), and the first
lieutenant, Mr. Sheriff. Both these gentlemen were convalescent from the
effects, of an accident which had happened to them in the passage
between Juan Fernandez and the mouth of the Columbia. The captain
wishing to clean the guns, ordered them to be scaled, that is, fired
off: during this exercise one of the guns hung fire; the sparks fell
into a cartridge tub, and setting fire to the combustibles, communicated
also to some priming horns suspended above; an explosion followed, which
reached some twenty persons; eight were killed on the spot, the rest
were severely burnt; Messrs. M'Donald and Sheriff had suffered a great
deal; it was with difficulty that their clothes had been removed; and
when the lieutenant came ashore, he had not recovered the use of his
hands. Among the killed was an American named _Flatt_, who was in the
service of the Northwest Company and whose loss these gentlemen appeared
exceedingly to regret.

As there were goods destined for the Company on board the Raccoon, the
schooner _Dolly_ was sent to Baker's bay to bring them up: but the
weather was so bad, and the wind so violent that she did not return till
the 12th, bringing up, together with the goods, Captain Black, a
lieutenant of marines, four soldiers and as many sailors. We entertained
our guests as splendidly as it lay in our power to do. After dinner, the
captain caused firearms to be given to the servants of the Company, and
we all marched under arms to the square or platform, where a flag-staff
had been erected. There the captain took a British Union Jack, which he
had brought on shore for the occasion, and caused it to be run up to the
top of the staff; then, taking a bottle of Madeira wine, he broke it on
the flag-staff, declaring in a loud voice, that he took possession of
the establishment and of the country in the name of His Britannic
Majesty; and changed the name of Astoria to _Fort George_. Some few
Indian chiefs had been got together to witness this ceremony, and I
explained to them in their own language what it signified. Three rounds
of artillery and musketry were fired, and the health of the king was
drunk by the parties interested, according to the usage on like

The sloop being detained by contrary winds, the captain caused an exact
survey to be made of the entrance of the river, as well as of the
navigable channel between Baker's bay and Fort George. The officers
visited the fort, turn about, and seemed to me in general very much
dissatisfied with their fool's errand, as they called it: they had
expected to find a number of American vessels loaded with rich furs, and
had calculated in advance their share in the booty of Astoria. They had
not met a vessel, and their astonishment was at its height when they saw
that our establishment had been transferred to the Northwest Company,
and was under the British flag. It will suffice to quote a single
expression of Captain Black's, in order to show how much they were
deceived in their expectations. The Captain landed after dark; when we
showed him the next morning the palisades and log bastions of the
factory, he inquired if there was not another fort; on being assured
that there was no other, he cried out, with an air of the greatest
astonishment:--"What! is this the fort which was represented to me as so
formidable! Good God! I could batter it down in two hours with a

There were on board the Raccoon two young men from Canada, who had been
impressed at Quebec, when that vessel was there some years before her
voyage to the Columbia: one of them was named _Parent_, a blacksmith,
and was of Quebec: the other was from Upper Canada, and was named
M'Donald. These young persons signified to us that they would be glad to
remain at Fort George: and as there was among our men some who would
gladly have shipped, we proposed to the captain an exchange, but he
would not consent to it. John Little, a boat-builder from New York, who
had been on the sick list a long time, was sent on board and placed
under the care of the sloop's surgeon, Mr. O'Brien; the captain engaging
to land him at the Sandwich Islands. P.D. Jeremie also shipped himself
as under clerk. The vessel hoisted sail, and got out of the river, on
the 31st of December.

From the account given in this chapter the reader will see with what
facility the establishment of the Pacific Fur Company could have escaped
capture by the British force. It was only necessary to get rid of the
land party of the Northwest Company--who were completely in our
power--then remove our effects up the river upon some small stream, and
await the result. The sloop-of-war arrived, it is true; but as, in the
case I suppose, she would have found nothing, she would have left, after
setting fire to our deserted houses. None of their boats would have
dared follow us, even if the Indians had betrayed to them our
lurking-place. Those at the head of affairs had their own fortunes to
seek, and thought it more for their interest, doubtless, to act as they
did, but that will not clear them in the eyes of the world, and the
charge of treason to Mr. Astor's interests will always be attached to
their characters.


     Expeditions to the Interior.--Return of Messrs. John Stuart and D.
     M'Kenzie.--Theft committed by the Natives.--War Party against the

On the 3d of January, 1814, two canoes laden with merchandise for the
interior, were despatched under the command of Mr. Alexander Stuart and
Mr. James Keith, with fifteen men under them. Two of the latter were
charged with letters for the posts (of the Northwest Company) east of
the mountains, containing instructions to the persons in superintendence
there, to have in readiness canoes and the requisite provisions for a
large party intending to go east the ensuing spring. I took this
opportunity of advising my friends in Canada of my intention to return
home that season. It was the third attempt I had made to send news of my
existence to my relatives and friends: the first two had miscarried and
this was doomed to meet the same fate.

Messrs. J. Stuart and M'Kenzie, who (as was seen in a previous chapter)
had been sent to notify the gentlemen in the interior of what had taken
place at Astoria, and to transfer the wintering posts to the Northwest
Company, returned to Fort George on the morning of the 6th. They stated
that they had left Messrs. Clarke and D. Stuart behind, with the loaded
canoes, and also that the party had been attacked by the natives above
the falls.

As they were descending the river toward evening, between the first and
second portages, they had espied a large number of Indians congregated
at no great distance in the prairie; which gave them some uneasiness. In
fact, some time after they had encamped, and when all the people (_tout
le monde_) were asleep, except Mr. Stuart, who was on guard, these
savages had stealthily approached the camp, and discharged some arrows,
one of which had penetrated the coverlet of one of the men, who was
lying near the baggage, and had pierced the cartilage of his ear; the
pain made him utter a sharp cry, which alarmed the whole camp and threw
it into an uproar. The natives perceiving it, fled to the woods, howling
and yelling like so many demons. In the morning our people picked up
eight arrows round the camp: they could yet hear the savages yell and
whoop in the woods: but, notwithstanding, the party reached the lower
end of the portage unmolested.

The audacity which these barbarians had displayed in attacking a party
of from forty to forty-five persons, made us suppose that they would,
much more probably, attack the party of Mr. Stuart, which was composed
of but seventeen men. Consequently, I received orders to get ready
forthwith a canoe and firearms, in order to proceed to their relief. The
whole was ready in the short space of two hours, and I embarked
immediately with a guide and eight men. Our instructions were to use all
possible diligence to overtake Messrs. Stewart and Keith, and to convey
them to the upper end of the last portage; or to return with the goods,
if we met too much resistance on the part of the natives. We travelled,
then, all that day, and all the night of the 6th, and on the 7th, till
evening. Finding ourselves then at a little distance from the rapids, I
came to a halt, to put the firearms in order, and let the men take some
repose. About midnight I caused them to re-embark, and ordered the men
to sing as they rowed, that the party whom we wished to overtake might
hear us as we passed, if perchance they were encamped on some one of the
islands of which the river is full in this part. In fact, we had hardly
proceeded five or six miles, when we were hailed by some one apparently
in the middle of the stream. We stopped rowing, and answered, and were
soon joined by our people of the expedition, who were all descending the
river in a canoe. They informed us that they had been attacked the
evening before, and that Mr. Stuart had been wounded. We turned about,
and all proceeded in company toward the fort. In the morning, when we
stopped to breakfast, Mr. Keith gave me the particulars of the affair of
the day preceding.

Having arrived at the foot of the rapids, they commenced the portage on
the south bank of the river, which is obstructed with boulders, over
which it was necessary to pass the effects. After they had hauled over
the two canoes, and a part of the goods, the natives approached in great
numbers, trying to carry off something unobserved. Mr. Stuart was at the
upper end of the portage (the portage being about six hundred yards in
length), and Mr. Keith accompanied the loaded men. An Indian seized a
bag containing articles of little value, and fled: Mr. Stuart, who saw
the act, pursued the thief, and after some resistance on the latter's
part, succeeded in making him relinquish his booty. Immediately he saw a
number of Indians armed with bows and arrows; approaching him: one of
them bent his bow and took aim; Mr. Stuart, on his part, levelled his
gun at the Indian, warning the latter not to shoot, and at the same
instant received an arrow, which pierced his left shoulder. He then
drew the trigger; but as it had rained all day, the gun missed fire, and
before he could re-prime, another arrow, better aimed than the first,
struck him in the left side and penetrated between two of his ribs, in
the region of the heart, and would have proved fatal, no doubt, but for
a stone-pipe he had fortunately in his side-pocket, and which was broken
by the arrow; at the same moment his gun was discharged, and the Indian
fell dead. Several others then rushed forward to avenge the death of
their compatriot; but two of the men came up with their loads and their
gun (for these portages were made arms in hand), and seeing what was
going forward, one of them threw his pack on the ground, fired on one of
the Indians and brought him down. He got up again, however, and picked
up his weapons, but the other man ran upon him, wrested from him his
war-club, and despatched him by repeated blows on the head with it. The
other savages, seeing the bulk of our people approaching the scene of
combat, retired and crossed the river. In the meantime, Mr. Stuart
extracted the arrows from his body, by the aid of one of the men: the
blood flowed in abundance from the wounds, and he saw that it would be
impossible for him to pursue his journey; he therefore gave orders for
the canoes and goods to be carried back to the lower end of the portage.
Presently they saw a great number of pirogues full of warriors coming
from the opposite side of the river. Our people then considered that
they could do nothing better than to get away as fast as possible; they
contrived to transport over one canoe, on which they all embarked,
abandoning the other and the goods, to the natives. While the barbarians
were plundering these effects, more precious in their estimation than
the apples of gold in the garden of the Hesperides, our party retired
and got out of sight. The retreat was, notwithstanding, so precipitate,
that they left behind an Indian from the Lake of the Two Mountains, who
was in the service of the Company as a hunter. This Indian had persisted
in concealing himself behind the rocks, meaning, he said, to kill some
of those thieves, and did not return in time for the embarkation. Mr.
Keith regretted this brave man's obstinacy, fearing, with good reason,
that he would be discovered and murdered by the natives. We rowed all
that day and night, and reached the factory on the 9th, at sunrise. Our
first care, after having announced the misfortune of our people, was to
dress the wounds of Mr. Stuart, which had been merely bound with a
wretched piece of cotton cloth.

The goods which had been abandoned, were of consequence to the Company,
inasmuch as they could not be replaced. It was dangerous, besides, to
leave the natives in possession of some fifty guns and a considerable
quantity of ammunition, which they might use against us.[S] The
partners, therefore, decided to fit out an expedition immediately to
chastise the robbers, or at least to endeavor to recover the goods. I
went, by their order, to find the principal chiefs of the neighboring
tribes, to explain to them what had taken place, and invite them to
join us, to which they willingly consented. Then, having got ready six
canoes, we re-embarked on the 10th, to the number of sixty-two men, all
armed from head to foot, and provided with a small brass field-piece.

[Footnote S: However, some cases of guns and kegs of powder were thrown
into the falls, before the party retreated.]

We soon reached the lower end of the first rapid: but the essential
thing was wanting to our little force; it was without provisions; our
first care then was to try to procure these. Having arrived opposite a
village, we perceived on the bank about thirty armed savages, who seemed
to await us firmly. As it was not our policy to seem bent on
hostilities, we landed on the opposite bank, and I crossed the river
with five or six men, to enter into parley with them, and try to obtain
provisions. I immediately became aware that the village was abandoned,
the women and children having fled to the woods, taking with them all
the articles of food. The young men, however, offered us dogs, of which
we purchased a score. Then we passed to a second village, where they
were already informed of our coming. Here we bought forty-five dogs and
a horse. With this stock we formed an encampment on an island called
_Strawberry island_.

Seeing ourselves now provided with food for several days, we informed
the natives touching the motives which had brought us, and announced to
them that we were determined to put them all to death and burn their
villages, if they did not bring back in two days the effects stolen on
the 7th. A party was detached to the rapids, where the attack on Mr.
Stuart had taken place. We found the villages all deserted. Crossing to
the north bank, we found a few natives, of whom we made inquiries
respecting the Nipissingue Indian, who had been left behind, but they
assured us that they had seen nothing of him.[T]

[Footnote T: This Indian returned some time after to the factory, but in
a pitiable condition. After the departure of the canoe, he had concealed
himself behind a rock, and so passed the night. At daybreak, fearing to
be discovered, he gained the woods and directed his steps toward the
fort, across a mountainous region. He arrived at length at the bank of a
little stream, which he was at first unable to cross. Hunger, in the
meantime, began to urge him; he might have appeased it with game, of
which he saw plenty, but unfortunately he had lost the flint of his gun.
At last, with a raft of sticks, he crossed the river, and arrived at a
village, the inhabitants of which disarmed him, and made him prisoner.
Our people hearing where he was, sent to seek him, and gave some
blankets for his ransom.]

Not having succeeded in recovering, above the rapids, any part of the
lost goods, the inhabitants all protesting that it was not they, but the
villages below, which had perpetrated the robbery, we descended the
river again, and re-encamped on _Strawberry island_. As the intention of
the partners was to intimidate the natives, without (if possible)
shedding blood, we made a display of our numbers, and from time to time
fired off our little field-piece, to let them see that we could reach
them from one side of the river to the other. The Indian _Coalpo_ and
his wife, who had accompanied us, advised us to make prisoner one of the
chiefs. We succeeded in this design, without incurring any danger.
Having invited one of the natives to come and smoke with us, he came
accordingly: a little after, came another; at last, one of the chiefs,
and he one of the most considered among them, also came. Being notified
secretly of his character by _Coalpo_, who was concealed in the tent,
we seized him forthwith, tied him to a stake, and placed a guard over
him with a naked sword, as if ready to cut his head off on the least
attempt being made by his people for his liberation. The other Indians
were then suffered to depart with the news for his tribe, that unless
the goods were brought to us in twenty-four hours, their chief would be
put to death. Our stratagem succeeded: soon after we heard wailing and
lamentation in the village, and they presently brought us part of the
guns, some brass kettles, and a variety of smaller articles, protesting
that this was all their share of the plunder. Keeping our chief as a
hostage, we passed to the other village, and succeeded in recovering the
rest of the guns, and about a third of the other goods.

Although they had been the aggressors, yet as they had had two men
killed and we had not lost any on our side, we thought it our duty to
conform to the usage of the country, and abandon to them the remainder
of the stolen effects, to cover, according to their expression, the
bodies of their two slain compatriots. Besides, we began to find
ourselves short of provisions, and it would not have been easy to get at
our enemies to punish them, if they had taken refuge in the woods,
according to their custom when they feel themselves the weaker party. So
we released our prisoner, and gave him a flag, telling him that when he
presented it unfurled, we should regard it as a sign of peace and
friendship: but if, when we were passing the portage, any one of the
natives should have the misfortune to come near the baggage, we would
kill him on the spot. We re-embarked on the 19th, and on the 22d reached
the fort, where we made a report of our martial expedition. We found Mr.
Stuart very ill of his wounds, especially of the one in the side, which
was so much swelled that we had every reason to think the arrow had been

If we did not do the savages as much harm as we might have done, it was
not from timidity but from humanity, and in order not to shed human
blood uselessly. For after all, what good would it have done us to have
slaughtered some of these barbarians, whose crime was not the effect of
depravity and wickedness, but of an ardent and irresistible desire to
ameliorate their condition? It must be allowed also that the interest,
well-understood, of the partners of the Northwest Company, was opposed
to too strongly marked acts of hostility on their part: it behooved them
exceedingly not to make irreconciliable enemies of the populations
neighboring on the portages of the Columbia, which they would so often
be obliged to pass and repass in future. It is also probable that the
other natives on the banks, as well as of the river as of the sea, would
not have seen with indifference, their countrymen too signally or too
rigorously punished by strangers; and that they would have made common
cause with the former to resist the latter, and perhaps even to drive
them from the country.

I must not omit to state that all the firearms surrendered by the
Indians on this occasion, were found loaded with ball, and primed, with
a little piece of cotton laid over the priming to keep the powder dry.
This shows how soon they would acquire the use of guns, and how careful
traders should be in intercourse with strange Indians, not to teach them
their use.


     Description of Tongue Point.--A Trip to the _Willamet_.--Arrival of
     W. Hunt in the Brig Pedlar.--Narrative of the Loss of the Ship
     Lark.--Preparations for crossing the Continent.

The new proprietors of our establishment, being dissatisfied with the
site we had chosen, came to the determination to change it; after
surveying both sides of the river, they found no better place than the
head-land which we had named Tongue point. This point, or to speak more
accurately, perhaps, this cape, extends about a quarter of a mile into
the river, being connected with the main-land by a low, narrow neck,
over which the Indians, in stormy weather, haul their canoes in passing
up and down the river; and terminating in an almost perpendicular rock,
of about 250 or 300 feet elevation. This bold summit was covered with a
dense forest of pine trees; the ascent from the lower neck was gradual
and easy; it abounded in springs of the finest water; on either side it
had a cove to shelter the boats necessary for a trading establishment.
This peninsula had truly the appearance of a huge tongue. Astoria had
been built nearer the ocean, but the advantages offered by Tongue point
more than compensated for its greater distance. Its soil, in the rainy
season, could be drained with little or no trouble; it was a better
position to guard against attacks on the part of the natives, and less
exposed to that of civilized enemies by sea or land in time of war.

All the hands who had returned from the interior, added to those who
were already at the Fort, consumed, in an incredibly short space of time
the small stock of provisions which had been conveyed by the Pacific Fur
Company to the Company of the Northwest. It became a matter of
necessity, therefore, to seek some spot where a part, at least, could be
sent to subsist. With these views I left the fort on the 7th February
with a number of men, belonging to the old concern, and who had refused
to enter the service of the new one, to proceed to the establishment on
the _Willamet_ river, under the charge of Mr. Alexander Henry, who had
with him a number of first-rate hunters. Leaving the Columbia to ascend
the _Willamet_, I found the banks on either side of that stream well
wooded, but low and swampy, until I reached the first falls; having
passed which, by making a portage, I commenced ascending a clear but
moderately deep channel, against a swift current. The banks on either
side were bordered with forest-trees, but behind that narrow belt,
diversified with prairie, the landscape was magnificent; the hills were
of moderate elevation, and rising in an amphitheatre. Deer and elk are
found here in great abundance; and the post in charge of Mr. Henry had
been established with a view of keeping constantly there a number of
hunters to prepare dried venison for the use of the factory. On our
arrival at the Columbia, considering the latitude, we had expected
severe winter weather, such as is experienced in the same latitudes
east; but we were soon undeceived; the mildness of the climate never
permitted us to transport fresh provisions from the Willamet to Astoria.
We had not a particle of salt; and the attempts we made to smoke or dry
the venison proved abortive.

Having left the men under my charge with Mr. Henry, I took leave of that
gentleman, and returned. At Oak point I found Messrs. Keith and Pillet
encamped, to pass there the season of sturgeon-fishing. They informed me
that I was to stay with them.

Accordingly I remained at Oak point the rest of the winter, occupied in
trading with the Indians spread all along the river for some 30 or 40
miles above, in order to supply the factory with provisions. I used to
take a boat with four or five men, visit every fishing station, trade
for as much fish as would load the boat, and send her down to the fort.
The surplus fish traded in the interval between the departure and return
of the boat, was cut up, salted and barrelled for future use. The salt
had been recently obtained from a quarter to be presently mentioned.

About the middle of March Messrs. Keith and Pillet both left me and
returned to the fort. Being now alone, I began seriously to reflect on
my position, and it was in this interval that I positively decided to
return to Canada. I made inquiries of the men sent up with the boats for
fish, concerning the preparations for departure, but whether they had
been enjoined secrecy, or were unwilling to communicate, I could learn
nothing of what was doing below.

At last I heard that on the 28th February a sail had appeared at the
mouth of the river. The gentlemen of the N.W. Company at first flattered
themselves that it was the vessel they had so long expected. They were
soon undeceived by a letter from Mr. Hunt, which was brought to the fort
by the Indians of _Baker's bay_. That gentleman had purchased at the
Marquesas islands a brig called _The Pedlar_: it was on that vessel that
he arrived, having for pilot Captain Northrop, formerly commander of
the ship _Lark_. The latter vessel had been outfitted by Mr. Astor, and
despatched from New York, in spite of the blockading squadron, with
supplies for the _ci-devant_ Pacific Fur Company; but unhappily she had
been assailed by a furious tempest and capsized in lat. 16° N., and
three or four hundred miles from the Sandwich Islands. The mate who was
sick, was drowned in the cabin, and four of the crew perished at the
same time. The captain had the masts and rigging cut away, which caused
the vessel to right again, though full of water. One of the hands dived
down to the sail-maker's locker, and got out a small sail, which they
attached to the bowsprit. He dived a second time, and brought up a box
containing a dozen bottles of wine. For thirteen days they had no other
sustenance but the flesh of a small shark, which they had the good
fortune to take, and which they ate raw, and for drink, a gill of the
wine each man _per diem_. At last the trade winds carried them upon the
island of _Tahouraka_, where the vessel went to pieces on the reef. The
islanders saved the crew, and seized all the goods which floated on the
water. Mr. Hunt was then at _Wahoo_, and learned through some islanders
from _Morotoi_, that some Americans had been wrecked on the isle of
_Tahouraka_. He went immediately to take them off, and gave the pilotage
of his own vessel to Captain Northrop.

It may be imagined what was the surprise of Mr. Hunt when he saw Astoria
under the British flag, and passed into stranger hands. But the
misfortune was beyond remedy, and he was obliged to content himself with
taking on board all the Americans who were at the establishment, and who
had not entered the service of the Company of the Northwest. Messrs.
Halsey, Seton, and Farnham were among those who embarked. I shall have
occasion to inform the reader of the part each of them played, and how
they reached their homes.

When I heard that Mr. Hunt was in the river, and knowing that the
overland expedition was to set out early in April, I raised camp at Oak
point, and reached the fort on the 2d of that month. But the brig
_Pedlar_ had that very day got outside the river, after several
fruitless attempts, in one of which she narrowly missed being lost on
the bar.

I would gladly have gone in her, had I but arrived a day sooner. I
found, however, all things prepared for the departure of the canoes,
which was to take place on the 4th. I got ready the few articles I
possessed, and in spite of the very advantageous offers of the gentlemen
of the N.W. Company, and their reiterated persuasions, aided by the
crafty M'Dougal, to induce me to remain, at least one year more, I
persisted in my resolution to leave the country. The journey I was about
to undertake was a long one: it would be accompanied with great fatigues
and many privations, and even by some dangers; but I was used to
privations and fatigues; I had braved dangers of more than one sort; and
even had it been otherwise, the ardent desire of revisiting my country,
my relatives, and my friends, the hope of finding myself, in a few
months, in their midst, would have made me overlook every other

I am about, then, to quit the banks of the river Columbia, and conduct
the reader through the mountain passes, over the plains, the forests,
and the lakes of our continent: but I ought first to give him at least
an idea of the manners and customs of the inhabitants, as well as of the
principal productions of the country that I now quit, after a sojourn of
three years. This is what I shall try to do in the following

[Footnote U: Some of my readers would, no doubt, desire some scientific
details on the botany and natural history of this country. That is, in
fact, what they ought to expect from a man who had travelled for his
pleasure, or to make discoveries: but the object of my travels was not
of this description; my occupations had no relation with science; and,
as I have said in my preface, I was not, and am not now, either a
naturalist or a botanist.]


     Situation of the Columbia River.--Qualities of its Soil.--Climate,
     &c.--Vegetable and Animal Productions of the Country.

The mouth of the Columbia river is situated in 46° 19' north latitude,
and 125° or 126° of longitude west of the meridian of Greenwich. The
highest tides are very little over nine or ten feet, at its entrance,
and are felt up stream for a distance of twenty-five or thirty leagues.

During the three years I spent there, the cold never was much below the
freezing point; and I do not think the heat ever exceeded 76°. Westerly
winds prevail from the early part of spring, and during a part of the
summer; that wind generally springs up with the flood tide, and tempers
the heat of the day. The northwest wind prevails during the latter part
of summer and commencement of autumn. This last is succeeded by a
southeast wind, which blows almost without intermission from the
beginning of October to the end of December, or commencement of January.
This interval is the rainy season, the most disagreeable of the year.
Fogs (so thick that sometimes for days no object is discernible for five
or six hundred yards from the beach), are also very prevalent.

The surface of the soil consists (in the valleys) of a layer of black
vegetable mould, about five or six inches thick at most; under this
layer is found another of gray and loose, but extremely cold earth;
below which is a bed of coarse sand and gravel, and next to that pebble
or hard rock. On the more elevated parts, the same black vegetable mould
is found, but much thinner, and under it is the trap rock. We found
along the seashore, south of Point Adams, a bank of earth white as
chalk, which we used for white-washing our walls. The natives also
brought us several specimens of blue, red and yellow earth or clay,
which they said was to be found at a great distance south; and also a
sort of shining earth, resembling lead ore.[V] We found no limestone,
although we burnt several kilns, but never could get one ounce of lime.

[Footnote V: Plumbago.]

We had brought with us from New York a variety of garden seeds, which
were put in the ground in the month of May, 1811, on a rich piece of
land laid out for the purpose on a sloping ground in front of our
establishment. The garden had a fine appearance in the month of August;
but although the plants were left in the ground until December, not one
of them came to maturity, with the exception of the radishes, the
turnips, and the potatoes. The turnips grew to a prodigious size; one of
the largest we had the curiosity to weigh and measure; its circumference
was thirty-three inches, its weight fifteen and a half pounds. The
radishes were in full blossom in the month of December, and were left in
the ground to perfect the seeds for the ensuing season, but they were
all destroyed by the ground mice, who hid themselves under the stumps
which we had not rooted out, and infested our garden. With all the care
we could bestow on them during the passage from New York, only twelve
potatoes were saved, and even these so shrivelled up, that we despaired
of raising any from the few sprouts that still gave signs of life.
Nevertheless we raised one hundred and ninety potatoes the first season,
and after sparing a few plants for our inland traders, we planted about
fifty or sixty hills, which produced five bushels the second year; about
two of these were planted, and gave us a welcome crop of fifty bushels
in the year 1813.

It would result from these facts, that the soil on the banks of the
river, as far as tide water, or for a distance of fifty or sixty miles,
is very little adapted for agriculture; at all events, vegetation is
very slow. It may be that the soil is not everywhere so cold as the spot
we selected for our garden, and some other positions might have given a
better reward for our labor: this supposition is rendered more than
probable when we take into consideration the great difference in the
indigenous vegetables of the country in different localities.

The forest trees most common at the mouth of the river and near our
establishment, were cedar, hemlock, white and red spruce, and alder.
There were a few dwarf white and gray ashes; and here and there a soft
maple. The alder grows also to a very large size; I measured some of
twelve to fifteen inches diameter; the wood was used by us in
preference, to make charcoal for the blacksmith's forge. But the largest
of all the trees that I saw in the country, was a white spruce: this
tree, which had lost its top branches, and bore evident marks of having
been struck by lightning, was a mere, straight trunk of about eighty to
one hundred feet in height; its bark whitened by age, made it very
conspicuous among the other trees with their brown bark and dark
foliage, like a huge column of white marble. It stood on the slope of a
hill immediately in the rear of our palisades. Seven of us placed
ourselves round its trunk, and we could not embrace it by extending our
arms and touching merely the tips of our fingers; we measured it
afterward in a more regular manner, and found it forty-two feet in
circumference. It kept the same size, or nearly the same, to the very

We had it in contemplation at one time to construct a circular staircase
to its summit, and erect a platform thereon for an observatory, but more
necessary and pressing demands on our time made us abandon the project.

A short distance above Astoria, the oak and ash are plentiful, but
neither of these is of much value or beauty.

From the middle of June to the middle of October, we had abundance of
wild fruit; first, strawberries, almost white, small but very sweet;
then raspberries, both red and orange color. These grow on a bush
sometimes twelve feet in height: they are not sweet, but of a large

The months of July and August furnish a small berry of an agreeable,
slightly acid flavor; this berry grows on a slender bush of some eight
to nine feet high, with small round leaves; they are in size like a wild
cherry: some are blue, while others are of a cherry red: the last being
smaller; they have no pits, or stones in them, but seeds, such as are to
be seen in currants.

I noticed in the month of August another berry growing in bunches or
grapes like the currant, on a bush very similar to the currant bush: the
leaves of this shrub resemble those of the laurel: they are very thick
and always green. The fruit is oblong, and disposed in two rows on the
stem: the extremity of the berry is open, having a little speck or tuft
like that of an apple. It is not of a particularly fine flavor, but it
is wholesome, and one may eat a quantity of it, without inconvenience.
The natives make great use of it; they prepare it for the winter by
bruising and drying it; after which it is moulded into cakes according
to fancy, and laid up for use. There is also a great abundance of
cranberries, which proved very useful as an antiscorbutic.

We found also the whortleberry, chokecherries, gooseberries, and black
currants with wild crab-apples: these last grow in clusters, are of
small size and very tart. On the upper part of the river are found
blackberries, hazel-nuts, acorns, &c. The country also possesses a great
variety of nutritive roots: the natives make great use of those which
have the virtue of curing or preventing the scurvy. We ate freely of
them with the same intention, and with the same success. One of these
roots, which much resembles a small onion, serves them, in some sort, in
place of cheese. Having gathered a sufficient quantity, they bake them
with red-hot stones, until the steam ceases to ooze from the layer of
grass and earth with which the roots are covered; then they pound them
into a paste, and make the paste into loaves, of five or six pounds
weight: the taste is not unlike liquorice, but not of so sickly a
sweetness. When we made our first voyage up the river the natives gave
us square biscuits, very well worked, and printed with different
figures. These are made of a white root, pounded, reduced to paste, and
dried in the sun. They call it _Chapaleel_: it is not very palatable;
nor very nutritive.

But the principal food of the natives of the Columbia is fish. The
salmon-fishery begins in July: that fish is here of an exquisite flavor,
but it is extremely fat and oily; which renders it unwholesome for those
who are not accustomed to it, and who eat too great a quantity: thus
several of our people were attacked with diarrhoea in a few days after
we began to make this fish our ordinary sustenance; but they found a
remedy in the raspberries of the country which have an astringent

The months of August and September furnish excellent sturgeon. This fish
varies exceedingly in size; I have seen some eleven feet long; and we
took one that weighed, after the removal of the eggs and intestines,
three hundred and ninety pounds. We took out nine gallons of roe. The
sturgeon does not enter the river in so great quantities as the salmon.

In October and November we had salmon too, but of a quite different
species--lean, dry and insipid. It differs from the other sort in form
also; having very long teeth, and a hooked nose like the beak of a
parrot. Our men termed it in derision "seven bark salmon," because it
had almost no nutritive substance.

February brings a small fish about the size of a sardine. It has an
exquisite flavor, and is taken in immense quantities, by means of a
scoop net, which the Indians, seated in canoes, plunge into the schools:
but the season is short, not even lasting two weeks.

The principal quadrupeds of the country are the elk, the black and white
tailed deer; four species of bear, distinguished chiefly by the color of
the fur or _poil_, to wit, the black, brown, white and grisly bear; the
grisly bear is extremely ferocious; the white is found on the seashore
toward the north; the wolf, the panther, the catamount, the lynx, the
raccoon, the ground hog, opossum, mink, fisher, beaver, and the land and
sea otter.[W] The sea otter has the handsomest fur that is known; the
skin surpasses that of the land variety in size and in the beauty of the
_poil_; the most esteemed color is the silver gray, which is highly
prized in the Indies, and commands a great price.

[Footnote W: Horses are abundant up the river; but they are not
indigenous to the country. They will be spoken of in a future chapter.]

The most remarkable birds are the eagle, the turkey-buzzard, the hawk,
pelican, heron, gull, cormorant, crane, swan, and a great variety of
wild ducks and geese. The pigeon, woodcock, and pheasant, are found in
the forests as with us.


     Manners, Customs, Occupations, &c., of the Natives on the River

The natives inhabiting on the Columbia, from the mouth of that river to
the falls, that is to say, on a space extending about 250 miles from
east to west, are, generally speaking, of low stature, few of them
passing five feet six inches, and many not even five feet. They pluck
out the beard, in the manner of the other Indians of North America; but
a few of the old men only suffer a tuft to grow upon their chins. On
arriving among them we were exceedingly surprised to see that they had
almost all flattened heads. This configuration is not a natural
deformity, but an effect of art, caused by compression of the skull in
infancy. It shocks strangers extremely, especially at first sight;
nevertheless, among these barbarians it is an indispensable ornament:
and when we signified to them how much this mode of flattening the
forehead appeared to us to violate nature and good taste, they answered
that it was only slaves who had not their heads flattened. The slaves,
in fact, have the usual rounded head, and they are not permitted to
flatten the foreheads of their children, destined to bear the chains of
their sires. The natives of the Columbia procure these slaves from the
neighboring tribes, and from the interior, in exchange for beads and
furs. They treat them with humanity while their services are useful, but
as soon as they become incapable of labor, neglect them and suffer them
to perish of want. When dead, they throw their bodies, without ceremony,
under the stump of an old decayed tree, or drag them to the woods to be
devoured by the wolves and vultures.

The Indians of the Columbia are of a light copper color, active in body,
and, above all, excellent swimmers. They are addicted to theft, or
rather, they make no scruple of laying hands on whatever suits them in
the property of strangers, whenever they can find an opportunity. The
goods and effects of European manufacture are so precious in the eyes of
these barbarians, that they rarely resist the temptation of stealing

These savages are not addicted to intemperance, unlike, in that respect
the other American Indians, if we must not also except the Patagonians,
who, like the Flatheads, regard intoxicating drinks as poisons, and
drunkenness as disgraceful. I will relate a fact in point: one of the
sons of the chief Comcomly being at the establishment one day, some of
the gentlemen amused themselves with making him drink wine, and he was
very soon drunk. He was sick in consequence, and remained in a state of
stupor for two days. The old chief came to reproach us, saying that we
had degraded his son by exposing him to the ridicule of the slaves, and
besought us not to induce him to take strong liquors in future.

The men go entirely naked, not concealing any part of their bodies. Only
in winter they throw over the shoulders a panther's skin, or else a
sort of mantle made of the skins of wood-rats sewed together. In rainy
weather I have seen them wear a mantle of rush mats, like a Roman toga,
or the vestment which a priest wears in celebrating mass; thus equipped,
and furnished with a conical hat made from fibrous roots and
impermeable, they may call themselves rain-proof. The women, in addition
to the mantle of skins, wear a petticoat made of the cedar bark, which
they attach round the girdle, and which reaches to the middle of the
thigh. It is a little longer behind than before, and is fabricated in
the following manner: They strip off the fine bark of the cedar, soak it
as one soaks hemp, and when it is drawn out into fibres, work it into a
fringe; then with a strong cord they bind the fringes together. With so
poor a vestment they contrive to satisfy the requirements of modesty;
when they stand it drapes them fairly enough; and when they squat down
in their manner, it falls between their legs, leaving nothing exposed
but the bare knees and thighs. Some of the younger women twist the
fibres of bark into small cords, knotted at the ends, and so form the
petticoat, disposed in a fringe, like the first, but more easily kept
clean and of better appearance.

Cleanliness is not a virtue among these females, who, in that respect,
resemble the other Indian women of the continent. They anoint the body
and dress the hair with fish oil, which does not diffuse an agreeable
perfume. Their hair (which both sexes wear long) is jet black; it is
badly combed, but parted in the middle, as is the custom of the sex
everywhere, and kept shining by the fish-oil before-mentioned.
Sometimes, in imitation of the men, they paint the whole body with a red
earth mixed with fish-oil. Their ornaments consist of bracelets of
brass, which they wear indifferently on the wrists and ankles; of
strings of beads of different colors (they give a preference to the
blue), and displayed in great profusion around the neck, and on the arms
and legs; and of white shells, called _Haiqua_, which are their ordinary
circulating medium. These shells are found beyond the straits of _Juan
de Fuca_, and are from one to four inches long, and about half an inch
in diameter: they are a little curved and naturally perforated: the
longest are most valued. The price of all commodities is reckoned in
these shells; a fathom string of the largest of them is worth about ten

Although a little less slaves than the greater part of the Indian women
elsewhere, the women on the Columbia are, nevertheless, charged with the
most painful labors; they fetch water and wood, and carry the goods in
their frequent changes of residence; they clean the fish and cut it up
for drying; they prepare the food and cook the fruits in their season.
Among their principal occupations is that of making rush mats, baskets
for gathering roots, and hats very ingeniously wrought. As they want
little clothing, they do not sew much, and the men have the needle in
hand oftener than they.

The men are not lazy, especially during the fishing season. Not being
hunters, and eating, consequently, little flesh-meat (although they are
fond of it), fish makes, as I have observed, their principal diet. They
profit, therefore, by the season when it is to be had, by taking as much
as they can; knowing that the intervals will be periods of famine and
abstinence, unless they provide sufficiently beforehand.

Their canoes are all made of cedar, and of a single trunk: we saw some
which were five feet wide at midships, and thirty feet in length; these
are the largest, and will carry from 25 to 30 men; the smallest will
carry but two or three. The bows terminate in a very elongated point,
running out four or five feet from the water line. It constitutes a
separate piece, very ingeniously attached, and serves to break the surf
in landing, or the wave on a rough sea. In landing they put the canoe
round, so as to strike the beach stern on. Their oars or paddles are
made of ash, and are about five feet long, with a broad blade, in the
shape of an inverted crescent, and a cross at the top, like the handle
of a crutch. The object of the crescent shape of the blade is to be able
to draw it, edge-wise, through the water without making any noise, when
they hunt the sea-otter, an animal which can only be caught when it is
lying asleep on the rocks, and which has the sense of hearing very
acute. All their canoes are painted red, and fancifully decorated.

Their houses, constructed of cedar, are remarkable for their form and
size: some of them are one hundred feet in length by thirty or forty
feet in width. They are constructed as follows: An oblong square of the
intended size of the building is dug out to the depth of two or three
feet; a double row of cedar posts is driven into the earth about ten
feet apart; between these the planks are laid, overlapping each other to
the requisite height. The roof is formed by a ridge-pole laid on taller
posts, notched to receive it, and is constructed with rafters and planks
laid clapboard-wise, and secured by cords for want of nails. When the
house is designed for several families, there is a door for each, and a
separate fireplace; the smoke escapes through an aperture formed by
removing one of the boards of the roof. The door is low, of an oval
shape, and is provided with a ladder, cut out of a log, to descend into
the lodge. The entrance is generally effected stern-foremost.

The kitchen utensils consist of plates of ash-wood, bowls of fibrous
roots, and a wooden kettle: with these they succeed in cooking their
fish and meat in less time than we take with the help of pots and
stewpans. See how they do it! Having heated a number of stones red-hot,
they plunge them, one by one, in the vessel which is to contain the food
to be prepared; as soon as the water boils, they put in the fish or
meat, with some more heated stones on top, and cover up the whole with
small rush mats, to retain the steam. In an incredibly short space of
time the article is taken out and placed on a wooden platter, perfectly
done and very palatable. The broth is taken out also, with a ladle of
wood or horn.

It will be asked, no doubt, what instruments these savages use in the
construction of their canoes and their houses. To cause their patience
and industry to be admired as much as they deserve, it will be
sufficient for me to mention that we did not find among them a single
hatchet: their only tools consisted of an inch or half-inch chisel,
usually made of an old file, and of a mallet, which was nothing but an
oblong stone. With these wretched implements, and wedges made of hemlock
knots, steeped in oil and hardened by the fire, they would undertake to
cut down the largest cedars of the forest, to dig them out and fashion
them into canoes, to split them, and get out the boards wherewith to
build their houses. Such achievements with such means, are a marvel of
ingenuity and patience.


     Manners and Customs of the Natives continued.--Their Wars.--Their
     Marriages.--Medicine Men.--Funeral Ceremonies.--Religious

The politics of the natives of the Columbia are a simple affair: each
village has its chief, but that chief does not seem to exercise a great
authority over his fellow-citizens. Nevertheless, at his death, they pay
him great honors: they use a kind of mourning, which consists in
painting the face with black, in lieu of gay colors; they chant his
funeral song or oration for a whole month. The chiefs are considered in
proportion to their riches: such a chief has a great many wives, slaves,
and strings of beads--he is accounted a great chief. These barbarians
approach in that respect to certain civilized nations, among whom the
worth of a man is estimated by the quantity of gold he possesses.

As all the villages form so many independent sovereignties, differences
sometimes arise, whether between the chiefs or the tribes. Ordinarily,
these terminate by compensations equivalent to the injury. But when the
latter is of a grave character, like a murder (which is rare), or the
abduction of a woman (which is very common), the parties, having made
sure of a number of young braves to aid them, prepare for war. Before
commencing hostilities, however, they give notice of the day when they
will proceed to attack the hostile village; not following in that
respect the custom of almost all other American Indians, who are wont to
burst upon their enemy unawares, and to massacre or carry off men,
women, and children; these people, on the contrary, embark in their
canoes, which on these occasions are paddled by the women, repair to the
hostile village, enter into parley, and do all they can to terminate the
affair amicably: sometimes a third party becomes mediator between the
first two, and of course observes an exact neutrality. If those who seek
justice do not obtain it to their satisfaction, they retire to some
distance, and the combat begins, and is continued for some time with
fury on both sides; but as soon as one or two men are killed, the party
which has lost these, owns itself beaten and the battle ceases. If it is
the people of the village attacked who are worsted, the others do not
retire without receiving presents. When the conflict is postponed till
the next day (for they never fight but in open daylight, as if to render
nature witness of their exploits), they keep up frightful cries all
night long, and, when they are sufficiently near to understand each
other, defy one another by menaces, railleries, and sarcasms, like the
heroes of Homer and Virgil. The women and children are always removed
from the village before the action.

Their combats are almost all maritime: for they fight ordinarily in
their pirogues, which they take care to careen, so as to present the
broadside to the enemy, and half lying down, avoid the greater part of
the arrows let fly at them.

But the chief reason of the bloodlessness of their combats is the
inefficiency of their offensive weapons, and the excellence of their
defensive armor. Their offensive arms are merely a bow and arrow, and a
kind of double-edged sabre, about two and a half feet long, and six
inches wide in the blade: they rarely come to sufficiently close
quarters to make use of the last. For defensive armor they wear a
cassock or tunic of elk-skin double, descending to the ankles, with
holes for the arms. It is impenetrable by their arrows, which can not
pierce two thicknesses of leather; and as their heads are also covered
with a sort of helmet, the neck is almost the only part in which they
can be wounded. They have another kind of corslet, made like the corsets
of our ladies, of splinters of hard wood interlaced with nettle twine.
The warrior who wears this cuirass does not use the tunic of elk-skin;
he is consequently less protected, but a great deal more free; the said
tunic being very heavy and very stiff.

It is almost useless to observe that, in their military expeditions,
they have their bodies and faces daubed with different paints, often of
the most extravagant designs. I remember to have seen a war-chief, with
one exact half of his face painted white and the other half black.

Their marriages are conducted with a good deal of ceremony. When a young
man seeks a girl in marriage, his parents make the proposals to those of
the intended bride, and when it has been agreed upon what presents the
future bridegroom is to offer to the parents of the bride, all parties
assemble at the house of the latter, whither the neighbors are invited
to witness the contract. The presents, which consist of slaves, strings
of beads, copper bracelets, _haiqua_ shells, &c., are distributed by the
young man, who, on his part receives as many, and sometimes more,
according to the means or the munificence of the parents of his
betrothed. The latter is then led forward by the old matrons and
presented to the young man, who takes her as his wife, and all retire to
their quarters.

The men are not very scrupulous in their choice, and take small pains to
inform themselves what conduct a young girl has observed before her
nuptials; and it must be owned that few marriages would take place, if
the youth would only espouse maidens without reproach on the score of
chastity; for the unmarried girls are by no means scrupulous in that
particular, and their parents give them, on that head, full liberty. But
once the marriage is contracted, the spouses observe toward each other
an inviolable fidelity; adultery is almost unknown among them, and the
woman who should be guilty of it would be punished with death. At the
same time, the husband may repudiate his wife, and the latter may then
unite herself in marriage to another man. Polygamy is permitted, indeed
is customary; there are some who have as many as four or five wives; and
although it often happens that the husband loves one better than the
rest, they never show any jealousy, but live, together in the most
perfect concord.[X]

[Footnote X: This appears improbable, and is, no doubt, overstated; but
so far as it is true, only shows the degradation of these women, and the
absence of moral love on both sides. The indifference to virgin chastity
described by Mr. F., is a characteristic of barbarous nations in
general, and is explained by the principle stated in the next note
below; the savage state being essentially one in which the supernatural
bond of human fellowship is snapped: it is (as it has been called) the
state of _nature_, in which continence is practically impossible; and
what men can not have, that they soon cease to prize. The same utter
indifference to the past conduct of the girls they marry is mentioned by
MAYHEW as existing among the costermongers and street population of
London, whom he well likens to the barbarous tribes lying on the
outskirts of more ancient nations.--ED.]

There are charlatans everywhere, but they are more numerous among
savages than anywhere else, because among these ignorant and
superstitious people the trade is at once more profitable and less
dangerous. As soon as a native of the Columbia is indisposed, no matter
what the malady, they send for the medicine man, who treats the patient
in the absurd manner usually adopted by these impostors, and with such
violence of manipulation, that often a sick man, whom a timely bleeding
or purgative would have saved, is carried off by a sudden death.

They deposite their dead in canoes, on rocks sufficiently elevated not
to be overflowed by the spring freshets. By the side of the dead are
laid his bow, his arrows, and some of his fishing implements; if it is
a woman, her beads and bracelets: the wives, the relatives and the
slaves of the defunct cut their hair in sign of grief, and for several
days, at the rising and setting of the sun, go to some distance from the
village to chant a funeral song.

These people have not, properly speaking, a public worship.[Y] I could
never perceive, during my residence among them, that they worshipped any
idol. They had, nevertheless, some small sculptured figures; but they
appeared to hold them in light esteem, offering to barter them for

[Footnote Y: It is Coleridge who observes that _every tribe is
barbarous_ which has no recognised public worship or cult, and no
regular priesthood as opposed to self-constituted conjurors. It is, in
fact, by public worship alone that human society is organized and
vivified; and it is impossible to maintain such worship without a
sacerdotal order, however it be constituted. _No culture without a
cult_, is the result of the study of the races of mankind. Hence those
who would destroy religion are the enemies of civilization.--ED.]

Having travelled with one of the sons of the chief of the Chinooks
(Comcomly), an intelligent and communicative young man, I put to him
several questions touching their religious belief, and the following
is, in substance, what he told me respecting it: Men, according to their
ideas, were created by a divinity whom they name _Etalapass_; but they
were imperfect, having a mouth that was not opened, eyes that were fast
closed, hands and feet that were not moveable; in a word, they were
rather statues of flesh, than living men. A second divinity, whom they
call _Ecannum_, less powerful, but more benign than the former, having
seen men in their state of imperfection, took a sharp stone and laid
open their mouths and eyes; he gave agility, also, to their feet, and
motion to their hands. This compassionate divinity was not content with
conferring these first benefits; he taught men to make canoes, paddles,
nets, and, in a word, all the tools and instruments they use. He did
still more: he threw great rocks into the river, to obstruct the ascent
of the salmon, in order that they might take as many as they wanted.

The natives of the Columbia further believe, that the men who have been
good citizens, good fathers, good husbands, and good fishermen, who
have not committed murder, &c., will be perfectly happy after their
death, and will go to a country where they will find fish, fruit, &c.,
in abundance; and that, on the contrary, those who have lived wickedly,
will inhabit a country of fasting and want, where they will eat nothing
but bitter roots, and have nothing to drink but salt water.

If these notions in regard to the origin and future destiny of man are
not exactly conformed to sound reason or to divine revelation, it will
be allowed that they do not offer the absurdities with which the
mythologies of many ancient nations abound.[Z] The article which makes
skill in fishing a virtue worthy of being compensated in the other
world, does not disfigure the salutary and consoling dogma of the
immortality of the soul, and that of future rewards and punishments, so
much as one is at first tempted to think; for if we reflect a little, we
shall discover that the skilful fisherman, in laboring for himself,
labors also for society; he is a useful citizen, who contributes, as
much as lies in his power, to avert from his fellow-men the scourge of
famine; he is a religious man, who honors the divinity by making use of
his benefits. Surely a great deal of the theology of a future life
prevalent among civilized men, does not excel this in profundity.

[Footnote Z: It seems clear that this Indian mythology is a form of the
primitive tradition obscured by symbol. The creation of man by the
Supreme Divinity, but in an imperfect state ("his eyes not yet opened"),
his deliverance from that condition by an inferior but more beneficent
deity (the Satan of the Bible), and the progress of the emancipated and
enlightened being, in the arts of industry, are clearly set forth. Thus
the devil has his cosmogony as well as the Almighty, and his tradition
in opposition to the divine.--ED.]

It is not to be expected that men perfectly ignorant, like these
Indians, should be free from superstitions: one of the most ridiculous
they have, regards the method of preparing and eating fish. In the month
of July, 1811, the natives brought us at first a very scanty supply of
the fresh salmon, from the fear that we would cut the fish crosswise
instead of lengthwise; being persuaded that if we did so, the river
would be obstructed, and the fishing ruined. Having reproached the chief
on that account, they brought us a greater quantity, but all cooked, and
which, not to displease them, it was necessary to eat before sunset.
Re-assured at last by our solemn promises not to cut the fish crosswise,
they supplied us abundantly during the remainder of the season.

In spite of the vices that may be laid to the charge of the natives of
the Columbia, I regard them as nearer to a state of civilization than
any of the tribes who dwell east of the Rocky mountains. They did not
appear to me so attached to their customs that they could not easily
adopt those of civilized nations: they would dress themselves willingly
in the European mode, if they had the means. To encourage this taste, we
lent pantaloons to the chiefs who visited us, when they wished to enter
our houses, never allowing them to do it in a state of nudity. They
possess, in an eminent degree, the qualities opposed to indolence,
improvidence, and stupidity: the chiefs, above all, are distinguished
for their good sense and intelligence. Generally speaking, they have a
ready intellect and a tenacious memory. Thus old Comcomly recognised the
mate of the _Albatross_ as having visited the country sixteen years
before, and recalled to the latter the name of the captain under whom he
had sailed at that period.

The _Chinook_ language is spoken by all the nations from the mouth of
the Columbia to the falls. It is hard and difficult to pronounce, for
strangers; being full of gutturals, like the Gaelic. The combinations
_thl_, or _tl_, and _lt_, are as frequent in the Chinook as in the

[Footnote AA: There can not be a doubt that the existing tribes on the
N.W. coast, have reached that country from the _South_, and not from the
North. They are the _debris_ of the civilization of Central America,
expelled by a defecating process that is going on in all human
societies, and so have sunk into barbarism.--ED.]


     Departure from Astoria or Fort George.--Accident.--Passage of the
     Dalles or Narrows.--Great Columbian Desert.--Aspect of the
     Country.--Wallawalla and Shaptin Rivers.--Rattlesnakes.--Some
     Details regarding the Natives of the Upper Columbia.

We quitted Fort George (or Astoria, if you please) on Monday morning,
the 4th of April, 1814, in ten canoes, five of which were of bark and
five of cedar wood, carrying each seven men as crew, and two passengers,
in all ninety persons, and all well armed. Messrs. J.G. M'Tavish, D.
Stuart, J. Clarke, B. Pillet, W. Wallace, D. M'Gillis, D. M'Kenzie, &c.,
were of the party. Nothing remarkable occurred to us as far as the first
falls, which we reached on the 10th. The portage was effected
immediately, and we encamped on an island for the night. Our numbers
had caused the greater part of the natives to take to flight, and those
who remained in the villages showed the most pacific dispositions. They
sold us four horses and thirty dogs, which were immediately slaughtered
for food.

We resumed our route on the 11th, at an early hour. The wind was
favorable, but blew with violence. Toward evening, the canoe in which
Mr. M'Tavish was, in doubling a point of rock, was run under by its
press of sail, and sunk. Happily the river was not deep at this place;
no one was drowned; and we succeeded in saving all the goods. This
accident compelled us to camp at an early hour.

On the 12th, we arrived at a rapid called the _Dalles_: this is a
channel cut by nature through the rocks, which are here almost
perpendicular: the channel is from 150 to 300 feet wide, and about two
miles long. The whole body of the river rushes through it, with great
violence, and renders navigation impracticable. The portage occupied us
till dusk. Although we had not seen a single Indian in the course of the
day, we kept sentinels on duty all night: for it was here that Messrs.
Stuart and Reed were attacked by the natives.

On the 13th, we made two more portages, and met Indians, of whom we
purchased horses and wood. We camped early on a sandy plain, where we
passed a bad night; the wind, which blew violently, raised clouds of
sand, which incommoded us greatly, and spoiled every mouthful of food we

On the 14th and 15th, we passed what are called the Great Plains of the
Columbia. From the top of the first rapid to this point, the aspect of
the country becomes more and more _triste_ and disagreeable; one meets
at first nothing but bare hills, which scarcely offer a few isolated
pines, at a great distance from each other; after that, the earth,
stripped of verdure, does not afford you the sight of a single shrub;
the little grass which grows in that arid soil, appears burnt by the
rigor of the climate. The natives who frequent the banks of the river,
for the salmon fishery, have no other wood but that which they take
floating down. We passed several rapids, and a small stream called
Utalah, which flows from the southeast.

On the 16th, we found the river narrowed; the banks rose on either side
in elevations, without, however, offering a single tree. We reached the
river _Wallawalla_, which empties into the Columbia on the southeast. It
is narrow at its confluence, and is not navigable for any great
distance. A range of mountains was visible to the S.E., about fifty or
sixty miles off. Behind these mountains the country becomes again flat
and sandy, and is inhabited by a tribe called the _Snakes_. We found on
the left bank of the _Wallawalla_, an encampment of Indians, consisting
of about twenty lodges. They sold us six dogs and eight horses, the
greater part extremely lean. We killed two of the horses immediately: I
mounted one of the six that remained; Mr. Ross took another; and we
drove the other four before us. Toward the decline of day we passed the
river _Lewis_, called, in the language of the country, the _Sha-ap-tin_.
It comes from the S.E., and is the same that Lewis and Clarke descended
in 1805. The _Sha-ap-tin_ appeared to me to have little depth, and to be
about 300 yards wide, at its confluence.

The country through which we were now passing, was a mingling of hills,
steep rocks, and valleys covered with wormwood; the stems of which shrub
are nearly six inches thick, and might serve for fuel. We killed six
rattlesnakes on the 15th, and on the 16th saw a great many more among
the rocks. These dangerous reptiles appeared to be very numerous in this
part of the country. The plains are also inhabited by a little
quadruped, only about eight or nine inches in length, and approaching
the dog in form. These animals have the hair, or _poil_, of a reddish
brown, and strong fore-paws, armed with long claws which serve them to
dig out their holes under the earth. They have a great deal of
curiosity: as soon as they hear a noise they come out of their holes and
bark. They are not vicious, but, though easily tamed, can not be

The natives of the upper Columbia, beginning at the falls, differ
essentially in language, manners, and habits, from those of whom I have
spoken in the preceding chapters. They do not dwell in villages, like
the latter, but are nomads, like the Tartars and the Arabs of the
desert: their women are more industrious, and the young girls more
reserved and chaste than those of the populations lower down. They do
not go naked, but both sexes wear habits made of dressed deer-skin,
which they take care to rub with chalk, to keep them clean and white.
They are almost always seen on horseback, and are in general good
riders; they pursue the deer and penetrate even to Missouri, to kill
buffalo, the flesh of which they dry, and bring it back on their horses,
to make their principal food during the winter. These expeditions are
not free from danger; for they have a great deal to apprehend from the
_Black-feet_, who are their enemies. As this last tribe is powerful and
ferocious, the _Snakes_, the _Pierced-noses_ or _Sha-ap-tins_, the
_Flatheads_, &c., make common cause against them, when the former go to
hunt east of the mountains. They set out with their families, and the
cavalcade often numbers two thousand horses. When they have the good
fortune not to encounter the enemy, they return with the spoils of an
abundant chase; they load a part of their horses with the hides and
beef, and return home to pass the winter in peace. Sometimes, on the
contrary, they are so harassed by the Blackfeet, who surprise them in
the night and carry off their horses, that they are forced to return
light-handed, and then they have nothing to eat but roots, all the

These Indians are passionately fond of horseraces: by the bets they make
on these occasions they sometimes lose all that they possess. The women
ride, as well as the men. For a bridle they use a cord of horse-hair,
which they attach round the animal's mouth; with that he is easily
checked, and by laying the hand on his neck, is made to wheel to this
side or that. The saddle is a cushion of stuffed deer-skin, very
suitable for the purpose to which it is destined, rarely hurting the
horse, and not fatiguing the rider so much as our European saddles. The
stirrups are pieces of hard wood, ingeniously wrought, and of the same
shape as those which are used in civilized countries. They are covered
with a piece of deer-skin, which is sewed on wet, and in drying stiffens
and becomes hard and firm. The saddles for women differ in form, being
furnished with the antlers of a deer, so as to resemble the high
pommelled saddle of the Mexican ladies.

They procure their horses from the herds of these animals which are
found in a wild state in the country extending between the northern
latitudes and the gulf of Mexico, and which sometimes count a thousand
or fifteen hundred in a troop. These horses come from New Mexico, and
are of Spanish race. We even saw some which had been marked with a hot
iron by Spaniards. Some of our men, who had been at the south, told me
that they had seen among the Indians, bridles, the bits of which were of
silver. The form of the saddles used by the females, proves that they
have taken their pattern from the Spanish ones destined for the same
use. One of the partners of the N.W. Company (Mr. M'Tavish) assured us
that he had seen among the _Spokans_, an old woman who told him that she
had seen men ploughing the earth; she told him that she had also seen
churches, which she made him understand by imitating the sound of a bell
and the action of pulling a bell-rope; and further to confirm her
account, made the sign of the cross. That gentleman concluded that she
had been made prisoner and sold to the Spaniards on the _Del Norte_; but
I think it more probable it was nearer, in North California, at the
mission of _San Carlos_ or _San Francisco_.

As the manner of taking wild horses should not be generally known to my
readers, I will relate it here in few words. The Indian who wishes to
capture some horses, mounts one of his fleetest coursers, being armed
with a long cord of horsehair, one end of which is attached to his
saddle, and the other is a running noose. Arrived at the herd, he dashes
into the midst of it, and flinging his cord, or _lasso_, passes it
dexterously over the head of the animal he selects; then wheeling his
courser, draws the cord after him; the wild horse, finding itself
strangling, makes little resistance; the Indian then approaches, ties
his fore and hind legs together, and leaves him till he has taken in
this manner as many as he can. He then drives them home before him, and
breaks them in at leisure.


     Meeting with the Widow of a Hunter.--Her Narrative.--Reflections of
     the Author.--Priest's Rapid.--River Okenakan.--Kettle Falls.--Pine
     Moss.--Scarcity of Food.--Rivers, Lakes, &c.--Accident.--A
     Rencontre.--First View of the Rocky Mountains.

On the 17th, the fatigue I had experienced the day before, on horseback,
obliged me to re-embark in my canoe. About eight o'clock, we passed a
little river flowing from the N.W. We perceived, soon after, three
canoes, the persons in which were struggling with their paddles to
overtake us. As we were still pursuing our way, we heard a child's voice
cry out in French--"_arrêtez donc, arrêtez donc_"--(stop! stop!). We put
ashore, and the canoes having joined us, we perceived in one of them the
wife and children of a man named _Pierre Dorion_, a hunter, who had been
sent on with a party of eight, under the command of Mr. J. Reed, among
the _Snakes_, to join there the hunters left by Messrs. Hunt and Crooks,
near Fort Henry, and to secure horses and provisions for our journey.
This woman informed us, to our no small dismay, of the tragical fate of
all those who composed that party. She told us that in the month of
January, the hunters being dispersed here and there, setting their traps
for the beaver, Jacob Regner, Gilles Leclerc, and Pierre Dorion, her
husband, had been attacked by the natives. Leclerc, having been mortally
wounded, reached her tent or hut, where he expired in a few minutes,
after having announced to her that her husband had been killed. She
immediately took two horses that were near the lodge, mounted her two
boys upon them, and fled in all haste to the wintering house of Mr.
Reed, which was about five days' march from the spot where her husband
fell. Her horror and disappointment were extreme, when she found the
house--a log cabin--deserted, and on drawing nearer, was soon convinced,
by the traces of blood, that Mr. Reed also had been murdered. No time
was to be lost in lamentations, and she had immediately fled toward the
mountains south of the _Wallawalla_, where, being impeded by the depth
of the snow, she was forced to winter, having killed both the horses to
subsist herself and her children. But at last, finding herself out of
provisions, and the snow beginning to melt, she had crossed the
mountains with her boys, hoping to find some more humane Indians, who
would let her live among them till the boats from the fort below should
be ascending the river in the spring, and so reached the banks of the
Columbia, by the Wallawalla. Here, indeed, the natives had received her
with much hospitality, and it was the Indians of Wallawalla who brought
her to us. We made them some presents to repay their care and pains, and
they returned well satisfied.

The persons who lost their lives in this unfortunate wintering party,
were Mr. John Reed, (clerk), Jacob Regner, John Hubbough, Pierre Dorion
(hunters), Gilles Leclerc, François Landry, J.B. Turcotte, André la
Chapelle and Pierre De Launay, (_voyageurs_).[AB] We had no doubt that
this massacre was an act of vengeance, on the part of the natives, in
retaliation for the death of one of their people, whom Mr. John Clark
had hanged for theft the spring before. This fact, the massacre on the
Tonquin, the unhappy end of Captain Cook, and many other similar
examples, prove how carefully the Europeans, who have relations with a
barbarous people, should abstain from acting in regard to them on the
footing of too marked an inequality, and especially from punishing their
offences according to usages and codes, in which there is too often an
enormous disproportion between the crime and the punishment. If these
pretended exemplary punishments seem to have a good effect at first
sight, they almost always produce terrible consequences in the sequel.

[Footnote AB: Turcotte died of _King's Evil_. De Launay was a
half-breed, of violent temper, who had taken an Indian woman to live
with him; he left Mr. Reed in the autumn, and was never heard of again.]

On the 18th, we passed _Priest's Rapid_, so named by Mr. Stuart and his
people, who saw at this spot, in 1811, as they were ascending the
river, a number of savages, one of whom was performing on the rest
certain aspersions and other ceremonies, which had the air of being
coarse imitations of the Catholic worship. For our part, we met here
some Indians of whom we bought two horses. The banks of the river at
this place are tolerably high, but the country back of them is flat and

On the 20th, we arrived at a place where the bed of the river is
extremely contracted, and where we were obliged to make a portage.
Messrs. J. Stuart and Clarke left us here, to proceed on horseback to
the Spokan trading house, to procure there the provisions which would be
necessary for us, in order to push on to the mountains.

On the 21st, we lightened of their cargoes, three canoes, in which those
who were to cross the continent embarked, to get on with greater speed.
We passed several rapids, and began to see mountains covered with snow.

On the 22d, we began to see some pines on the ridge of the neighboring
hills; and at evening we encamped under _trees_, a thing which had not
happened to us since the 12th.

On the 23d, toward 9, A.M., we reached the trading post established by
D. Stuart, at the mouth of the river _Okenakan_. The spot appeared to us
charming, in comparison with the country through which we had journeyed
for twelve days past: the two rivers here meeting, and the immense
prairies covered with a fine verdure, strike agreeably the eye of the
observer; but there is not a tree or a shrub to diversify the scene, and
render it a little less naked and less monotonous. We found here Messrs.
J. M'Gillivray and Ross, and Mr. O. de Montigny, who had taken service
with the N.W. Company, and who charged me with a letter for his brother.

Toward midday we re-embarked, to continue our journey. After having
passed several dangerous rapids without accident, always through a
country broken by shelving rocks, diversified with hills and verdant
prairies, we arrived, on the 29th, at the portage of the _Chaudieres_
or Kettle falls. This is a fall where the water precipitates itself
over an immense rock of white marble, veined with red and green, that
traverses the bed of the river from N.W. to S.E. We effected the portage
immediately, and encamped on the edge of a charming prairie.

We found at this place some Indians who had been fasting, they assured
us, for several days. They appeared, in fact, reduced to the most
pitiable state, having nothing left but skin and bones, and scarcely
able to drag themselves along, so that not without difficulty could they
even reach the margin of the river, to get a little water to wet their
parched lips. It is a thing that often happens to these poor people,
when their chase has not been productive; their principal nourishment
consisting, in that case, of the pine moss, which they boil till it is
reduced to a sort of glue or black paste, of a sufficient consistence to
take the form of biscuit. I had the curiosity to taste this bread, and I
thought I had got in my mouth a bit of soap. Yet some of our people, who
had been reduced to eat this glue, assured me that when fresh made it
had a very good taste, seasoned with meat.[AC] We partly relieved these
wretched natives from our scanty store.

[Footnote AC: The process of boiling employed by the Indians in this
case, extracts from the moss its gelatine, which serves to supply the
waste of those tissues into which that principle enters; but as the moss
contains little or none of the proximates which constitute the bulk of
the living solids and fluids, it will not, of course, by itself, support
life or strength.--ED.]

On the 30th, while we were yet encamped at Kettle falls, Messrs. J.
Stuart and Clarke arrived from the post at Spokan. The last was mounted
on the finest-proportioned gray charger, full seventeen hands high, that
I had seen in these parts: Mr. Stuart had got a fall from his, in trying
to urge him, and had hurt himself severely. These gentlemen not having
brought us the provisions we expected, because the hunters who had been
sent for that purpose among the _Flatheads_, had not been able to
procure any, it was resolved to divide our party, and that Messrs.
M'Donald, J. Stuart, and M'Kenzie should go forward to the post situated
east of the mountains, in order to send us thence horses and supplies.
These gentlemen quitted us on the 1st of May. After their departure we
killed two horses and dried the meat; which occupied us the rest of that
day and all the next. In the evening of the 2d, Mr. A. Stuart arrived at
our camp. He had recovered from his wounds (received in the conflict
with the natives, before related), and was on his way to his old
wintering place on _Slave lake_, to fetch his family to the Columbia.

We resumed our route on the morning of the 3d of May, and went to encamp
that evening at the upper-end of a rapid, where we began to descry
mountains covered with forests, and where the banks of the river
themselves were low and thinly timbered.

On the 4th, after having passed several considerable rapids, we reached
the confluence of _Flathead_ river. This stream comes from the S.E., and
falls into the Columbia in the form of a cascade: it may be one hundred
and fifty yards wide at its junction.

On the morning of the 5th, we arrived at the confluence of the
_Coutonais_ river. This stream also flows from the south, and has nearly
the same width as the _Flathead_. Shortly after passing it, we entered
a lake or enlargement of the river, which we crossed to encamp at its
upper extremity. This lake may be thirty or forty miles, and about four
wide at its broadest part: it is surrounded by lofty hills, which for
the most part have their base at the water's edge, and rise by gradual
and finely-wooded terraces, offering a sufficiently pretty view.

On the 6th, after we had run through a narrow strait or channel some
fifteen miles long, we entered another lake, of less extent than the
former but equally picturesque. When we were nearly in the middle of it,
an accident occurred which, if not very disastrous, was sufficiently
singular. One of the men, who had been on the sick-list for several
days, requested to be landed for an instant. Not being more than a mile
from the shore, we acceded to his request, and made accordingly for a
projecting head-land; but when we were about three hundred or four
hundred yards from the point, the canoe struck with force against the
trunk of a tree which was planted in the bottom of the lake, and the
extremity of which barely reached the surface of the water.[AD] It
needed no more to break a hole in so frail a vessel; the canoe was
pierced through the bottom and filled in a trice; and despite all our
efforts we could not get off the tree, which had penetrated two or three
feet within her; perhaps that was our good fortune, for the opening was
at least a yard long. One of the men, who was an expert swimmer,
stripped, and was about to go ashore with an axe lashed to his back, to
make a raft for us, when the other canoe, which had been proceeding up
the lake, and was a mile ahead, perceived our signals of distress, and
came to our succor. They carried us to land, where it was necessary to
encamp forthwith, as well to dry ourselves as to mend the canoe.

[Footnote AD: A _snag_ of course, of the nature of which the young
Canadian seems to have been ignorant.]

On the 7th, Mr. A. Stuart, whom we had left behind at Kettle falls, came
up with us, and we pursued our route in company. Toward evening we met
natives, camped on the bank of the river: they gave us a letter from
which we learned that Mr. M'Donald and his party had passed there on the
4th. The women at this camp were busy spinning the coarse wool of the
mountain sheep: they had blankets or mantles, woven or platted of the
same material, with a heavy fringe all round: I would gladly have
purchased one of these, but as we were to carry all our baggage on our
backs across the mountains, was forced to relinquish the idea. Having
bought of these savages some pieces of dried venison, we pursued our
journey. The country began to be ascending; the stream was very rapid;
and we made that day little progress.

On the 8th we began to see snow on the shoals or sand-banks of the
river: the atmosphere grew very cold. The banks on either side presented
only high hills covered to the top with impenetrable forests. While the
canoes were working up a considerable rapid, I climbed the hills with
Mr. M'Gillis, and we walked on, following the course of the river, some
five or six miles. The snow was very deep in the ravines or narrow
gorges which are found between the bases of the hills. The most common
trees are the Norway pine and the cedar: the last is here, as on the
borders of the sea, of a prodigious size.

On the 9th and 10th, as we advanced but slowly, the country presented
the same aspect as on the 8th. Toward evening of the 10th, we perceived
a-head of us a chain of high mountains entirely covered with snow. The
bed of the river was hardly more than sixty yards wide, and was filled
with dry banks composed of coarse gravel and small pebble.


     Course of the Columbia River.--Canoe River.--Foot-march toward the
     Rocky Mountains.--Passage of the Mountains.

On the 11th, that is to say, one month, day for day, after our departure
from the falls, we quitted the Columbia, to enter a little stream to
which Mr. Thompson had given, in 1811, the name of _Canoe_ river, from
the fact that it was on this fork that he constructed the canoes which
carried him to the Pacific.

The Columbia, which in the portion above the falls (not taking into
consideration some local sinuosities) comes from the N.N.E., takes a
bend here so that the stream appears to flow from the S.E.[AE] Some
boatmen, and particularly Mr. Regis Bruguier, who had ascended that
river to its source, informed me that it came out of two small lakes,
not far from the chain of the Rocky Mountains, which, at that place,
diverges considerably to the east. According to Arrowsmith's map, the
course of the _Tacoutche Tessé_, from its mouth in the Pacific Ocean, to
its source in the Rocky mountains, is about twelve hundred English
miles, or four hundred French leagues of twenty-five to a degree; that
is to say, from two hundred and forty to two hundred and eighty miles
from west to east, from its mouth to the first falls: seven hundred and
fifty miles nearly from S.S.W. to N.N.E., from the first rapids to the
bend at the confluence of _Canoe_ river; and one hundred and fifty or
one hundred and eighty miles from that confluence to its source. We were
not provided with the necessary instruments to determine the latitude,
and still less the longitude, of our different stations; but it took us
four or five days to go up from the factory at Astoria to the falls, and
we could not have made less than sixty miles a day: and, as I have just
remarked, we occupied an entire month in getting from the falls to Canoe
river: deducting four or five days, on which we did not travel, there
remain twenty-five days march; and it is not possible that we made less
than thirty miles a day, one day with another.

[Footnote AE: Mr. Franchere uniformly mentions the direction from which
a stream appears to flow, not that toward which it runs; a natural
method on the part of one who was ascending the current.]

We ascended Canoe river to the point where it ceases to be navigable,
and encamped in the same place where Mr. Thompson wintered in 1810-'11.
We proceeded immediately to secure our canoes, and to divide the baggage
among the men, giving each fifty pounds to carry, including his
provisions. A sack of _pemican_, or pounded meat, which we found in a
_cache_, where it had been left for us, was a great acquisition, as our
supplies were nearly exhausted.

On the 12th we began our foot march to the mountains, being twenty-four
in number, rank and file. Mr. A. Stuart remained at the portage to
bestow in a place of safety the effects which we could not carry, such
as boxes, kegs, camp-kettles, &c. We traversed first some swamps, next a
dense bit of forest, and then we found ourselves marching up the
gravelly banks of the little _Canoe_ river. Fatigue obliged us to camp

On the 13th we pursued our journey, and entered into the valleys between
the mountains, where there lay not less than four or five feet of snow.
We were obliged to ford the river ten or a dozen times in the course of
the day, sometimes with the water up to our necks. These frequent
fordings were rendered necessary by abrupt and steep rocks or bluffs,
which it was impossible to get over without plunging into the wood for a
great distance. The stream being very swift, and rushing over a bed of
stones, one of the men fell and lost a sack containing our last piece of
salt pork, which we were preserving as a most precious treasure. The
circumstances in which we found ourselves made us regard this as a most
unfortunate accident. We encamped that night at the foot of a steep
mountain, and sent on Mr. Pillet and the guide, M'Kay, to hasten a
supply of provisions to meet us.

On the morning of the 14th we began to climb the mountain which we had
before us. We were obliged to stop every moment, to take breath, so
stiff was the ascent. Happily it had frozen hard the night before, and
the crust of the snow was sufficient to bear us. After two or three
hours of incredible exertions and fatigues, we arrived at the _plateau_
or summit, and followed the footprints of those who had preceded us.
This mountain is placed between two others a great deal more elevated,
compared with which it is but a hill, and of which, indeed, it is only,
as it were, the valley. Our march soon became fatiguing, on account of
the depth of the snow, which, softened by the rays of the sun, could no
longer bear us as in the morning. We were obliged to follow exactly the
traces of those who had preceded us, and to plunge our legs up to the
knees in the holes they had made, so that it was as if we had put on and
taken off, at every step, a very large pair of boots. At last we arrived
at a good hard bottom, and a clear space, which our guide said was a
little lake frozen over, and here we stopped for the night. This lake,
or rather these lakes (for there are two) are situated in the midst of
the valley or _cup_ of the mountains. On either side were immense
glaciers, or ice-bound rocks, on which the rays of the setting sun
reflected the most beautiful prismatic colors. One of these icy peaks
was like a fortress of rock; it rose perpendicularly some fifteen or
eighteen hundred feet above the level of the lakes, and had the summit
covered with ice. Mr. J. Henry, who first discovered the pass, gave this
extraordinary rock the name of _M'Gillivray's Rock_, in honor of one of
the partners of the N.W. Company. The lakes themselves are not much over
three or four hundred yards in circuit, and not over two hundred yards
apart. Canoe river, which, as we have already seen, flows to the west,
and falls into the Columbia, takes its rise in one of them; while the
other gives birth to one of the branches of the _Athabasca_, which runs
first eastward, then northward, and which, after its junction with the
_Unjighah_, north of the Lake of the Mountains, takes the name of
_Slave_ river, as far the lake of that name, and afterward that of
_M'Kenzie_ river, till it empties into, or is lost in, the Frozen ocean.
Having cut a large pile of wood, and having, by tedious labor for nearly
an hour, got through the ice to the clear water of the lake on which we
were encamped, we supped frugally on pounded maize, arranged our
bivouac, and passed a pretty good night, though it was bitterly cold.
The most common wood of the locality was cedar and stunted pine. The
heat of our fire made the snow melt, and by morning the embers had
reached the solid ice: the depth from the snow surface was about five

On the 15th, we continued our route, and soon began to descend the
mountain. At the end of three hours, we reached the banks of a
stream--the outlet of the second lake above mentioned--here and there
frozen over, and then again tumbling down over rock and pebbly bottom in
a thousand fantastic gambols; and very soon we had to ford it. After a
tiresome march, by an extremely difficult path in the midst of woods, we
encamped in the evening under some cypresses. I had hit my right knee
against the branch of a fallen tree on the first day of our march, and
now began to suffer acutely with it. It was impossible, however, to
flinch, as I must keep up with the party or be left to perish.

On the 16th, our path lay through thick swamps and forest; we recrossed
the small stream we had forded the day before, and our guide conducted
us to the banks of the _Athabasca_, which we also forded. As this
passage was the last to be made, we dried our clothes, and pursued our
journey through a more agreeable country than on the preceding days. In
the evening we camped on the margin of a verdant plain, which, the guide
informed us, was called _Coro prairie_. We had met in the course of the
day several buffalo tracks, and a number of the bones of that quadruped
bleached by time. Our flesh-meat having given out entirely, our supper
consisted in some handfuls of corn, which we parched in a pan.

We resumed our route very early on the 17th, and after passing a forest
of trembling poplar or aspen, we again came in sight of the river which
we had left the day before. Arriving then at an elevated promontory or
cape, our guide made us turn back in order to pass it at its most
accessible point. After crossing it, not without difficulty, we soon
came upon fresh horse-prints, a sure indication that there were some of
those animals in our neighborhood. Emerging from the forest, each took
the direction which he thought would lead soonest to an encampment. We
all presently arrived at an old house which the traders of the N.W.
Company had once constructed, but which had been abandoned for some four
or five years. The site of this trading post is the most charming that
can be imagined: suffice to say that it is built on the bank of the
beautiful river _Athabasca_, and is surrounded by green, and smiling
prairies and superb woodlands. Pity there is nobody there to enjoy these
rural beauties and to praise, while admiring them, the Author of Nature.
We found there Mr. Pillet, and one of Mr. J. M'Donald's party, who had
his leg broken by the kick of a horse. After regaling ourselves with
_pemican_ and some fresh venison, we set out again, leaving two of the
party to take care of the lame man, and went on about eight or nine
miles farther to encamp.

On the 18th, we had rain. I took the lead, and after having walked about
ten or twelve miles, on the slope of a mountain denuded of trees, I
perceived some smoke issuing from a tuft of trees in the bottom of a
valley, and near the river. I descended immediately, and reached a small
camp, where I found two men who were coming to meet us with four horses.
I made them fire off two guns as a signal to the rest of our people who
were coming up in the rear, and presently we heard it repeated on the
river, from which we were not far distant. We repaired thither, and
found two of the men, who had been left at the last ford, and who,
having constructed a bark canoe, were descending the river. I made one
of them disembark, and took his place, my knee being so painful that I
could walk no further. Meanwhile the whole party came up; they loaded
the horses, and pursued their route. In the course of the day my
companion (an Iroquois) and I, shot seven ducks. Coming, at last, to a
high promontory called _Millet's rock_, we found some of our
foot-travellers with Messrs. Stewart and Clarke, who were on horseback,
all at a stand, doubting whether it would answer to wade round the base
of the rock, which dipped in the water. We sounded the stream for them,
and found it fordable. So they all passed round, thereby avoiding the
inland path, which is excessively fatiguing by reason of the hills,
which it is necessary perpetually to mount and descend. We encamped, to
the number of seven, at the entrance of what at high water might be a
lake, but was then but a flat of blackish sand, with a narrow channel in
the centre. Here we made an excellent supper on the wild ducks, while
those who were behind had nothing to eat.


     Arrival at the Fort of the Mountains.--Description of this
     Post.--Some Details in Regard to the Rocky Mountains.--Mountain
     Sheep, &c.--Continuation of the Journey.--Unhappy
     Accident.--Reflections.--News from Canada.--Hunter's
     Lodge.--Pembina and Red Deer Rivers.

On the 19th we raised our camp and followed the shore of the little dry
lake, along a smooth sandy beach, having abandoned our little bark
canoe, both because it had become nearly unserviceable, and because we
knew ourselves to be very near the Rocky Mountains House. In fact, we
had not gone above five or six miles when we discerned a column of smoke
on the opposite side of the stream. We immediately forded across, and
arrived at the post, where we found Messrs. M'Donald, Stuart, and
M'Kenzie, who had preceded us only two days.

The post of the Rocky Mountains, in English, _Rocky Mountains House_, is
situated on the shore of the little lake I have mentioned, in the midst
of a wood, and is surrounded, except on the water side, by steep rocks,
inhabited only by the mountain sheep and goat. Here is seen in the west
the chain of the Rocky Mountains, whose summits are covered with
perpetual snow. On the lake side, _Millet's Rock_, of which I have
spoken above, is in full view, of an immense height, and resembles the
front of a huge church seen in perspective. The post was under the
charge of a Mr. Decoigne. He does not procure many furs for the company,
which has only established the house as a provision depôt, with the view
of facilitating the passage of the mountains to those of its _employés_
who are repairing to, or returning from, the Columbia.

People speak so often of the Rocky Mountains, and appear to know so
little about them, that the reader will naturally desire me to say here
a word on that subject. If we are to credit travellers, and the most
recent maps, these mountains extend nearly in a straight line, from the
35th or 36th degree of north latitude, to the mouth of the _Unjighah_,
or _M'Kenzie's river_, in the Arctic ocean, in latitude 65° or 66° N.
This distance of thirty degrees of latitude, or seven hundred and fifty
leagues, equivalent to two thousand two hundred and fifty English miles
or thereabouts, is, however, only the mean side of a right-angled
triangle, the base of which occupies twenty-six degrees of longitude, in
latitude 35° or 36°, that is to say, is about sixteen hundred miles
long, while the chain of mountains forms the _hypotenuse_; so that the
real, and as it were diagonal, length of the chain, across the
continent, must be very near three thousand miles from S.E. to N.W. In
such a vast extent of mountains, the perpendicular height and width of
base must necessarily be very unequal. We were about eight days in
crossing them; whence I conclude, from our daily rate of travel, that
they may have, at this point, i.e., about latitude 54°, a base of two
hundred miles.

The geographer Pinkerton is assuredly mistaken, when he gives these
mountains an elevation of but three thousand feet above the level of the
sea; from my own observations I would not hesitate to give them six
thousand; we attained, in crossing them, an elevation probably of
fifteen hundred feet above the valleys, and were not, perhaps, nearer
than half way of their total height, while the valleys themselves must
be considerably elevated above the level of the Pacific, considering the
prodigious number of rapids and falls which are met in the Columbia,
from the first falls to Canoe river. Be that as it may, if these
mountains yield to the Andes in elevation and extent, they very much
surpass in both respects the Apalachian chain, regarded until recently
as the principal mountains of North America: they give rise,
accordingly, to an infinity of streams, and to the greatest rivers of
the continent.[AF]

[Footnote AF: This is interesting, as the rough calculation of an
unscientific traveller, unprovided with instruments, and at that date.
The real height of the Rocky Mountains, as now ascertained, averages
twelve thousand feet; the highest known peak is about sixteen

They offer a vast and unexplored field to natural history: no botanist,
no mineralogist, has yet examined them. The first travellers called them
the Glittering mountains, on account of the infinite number of immense
rock crystals, which, they say, cover their surface, and which, when
they are not covered with snow, or in the bare places, reflect to an
immense distance the rays of the sun. The name of Rocky mountains was
given them, probably, by later travellers, in consequence of the
enormous isolated rocks which they offer here and there to the view. In
fact, Millet's rock, and _M'Gillivray's_ above all, appeared to me
wonders of nature. Some think that they contain metals, and precious

With the exception of the mountain sheep and goat, the animals of the
Rocky mountains, if these rocky passes support any, are not better known
than their vegetable and mineral productions. The mountain sheep resorts
generally to steep rocks, where it is impossible for men or even for
wolves to reach them: we saw several on the rocks which surround the
Mountain House. This animal has great curved horns, like those of the
domestic ram: its wool is long, but coarse; that on the belly is the
finest and whitest. The Indians who dwell near the mountains, make
blankets of it, similar to ours, which they exchange with the Indians of
the Columbia for fish, and other commodities. The ibex, or mountain
goat, frequents, like the sheep, the top and the declivities of the
rocks: it differs from the sheep in having hair instead of wool, and
straight horns projecting backward, instead of curved ones. The color is
also different. The natives soften the horns of these animals by
boiling, and make platters, spoons, &c., of them, in a very artistic

Mr. Decoigne had not sufficient food for us, not having expected so many
people to arrive at once. His hunters were then absent on _Smoke_ river
(so called by some travellers who saw in the neighborhood a volcanic
mountain belching smoke), in quest of game. We were therefore compelled
to kill one of the horses for food. We found no birch bark either to
make canoes, and set the men to work in constructing some of wood. For
want of better materials, we were obliged to use poplar. On the 22d, the
three men whom we had left at the old-house, arrived in a little canoe
made of two elk-skins sewed together, and stretched like a drum, on a
frame of poles.

On the 24th, four canoes being ready, we fastened them together two and
two, and embarked, to descend the river to an old post called _Hunter's
Lodge_, where Mr. Decoigne, who was to return with us to Canada,
informed us that we should find some bark canoes _en cache_, placed
there for the use of the persons who descend the river. The water was
not deep, and the stream was rapid; we glided along, so to speak, for
ten or a dozen leagues, and encamped, having lost sight of the
mountains. In proportion as we advanced, the banks of the river grew
less steep, and the country became more agreeable.

On the 25th, having only a little _pemican_ left, which we wished to
keep, we sent forward a hunter in the little elk-skin canoe, to kill
some game. About ten o'clock, we found him waiting for us with two
moose that he had killed. He had suspended the hearts from the branch of
a tree as a signal. We landed some men to help him in cutting up and
shipping the game. We continued to glide safely down. But toward two
o'clock, P.M., after doubling a point, we got into a considerable rapid,
where, by the maladroitness of those who managed the double pirogue in
which I was, we met with a melancholy accident. I had proposed to go
ashore, in order to lighten the canoes, which were loaded to the water's
edge; but the steersman insisted that we could go down safe, while the
bow-man was turning the head of the pirogue toward the beach; by this
manoeuvre we were brought athwart the stream, which was carrying us fast
toward the falls; just then our frail bark struck upon a sunken rock;
the lower canoe broke amid-ships and filled instantly, and the upper one
being lighted, rolled over, precipitating us all into the water. Two of
our men, Olivier Roy Lapensée and André Bélanger, were drowned; and it
was not without extreme difficulty that we succeeded in saving Messrs.
Pillet and Wallace, as well as a man named _J. Hurteau_. The latter was
so far gone that we were obliged to have recourse to the usual means for
the resuscitation of drowned persons. The men lost all their effects;
the others recovered but a part of theirs; and all our provisions went.
Toward evening, in ascending the river (for I had gone about two miles
below, to recover the effects floating down), we found the body of
Lapensée. We interred it as decently as we could, and planted at his
grave a cross, on which I inscribed with the point of my knife, his name
and the manner and date of his death. Bélanger's body was not found. If
anything could console the shades of the departed for a premature and
unfortunate end, it would be, no doubt, that the funeral rites have been
paid to their remains, and that they themselves have given their names
to the places where they perished: it is thus that the shade of
Palinurus rejoiced in the regions below, at learning from the mouth of
the Sibyl, that the promontory near which he was drowned would
henceforth be called by his name: _gaudet cognomine terra_. The rapid
and the point of land where the accident I have described took place,
will bear, and bears already, probably, the name of _Lapensée_.[AG]

[Footnote AG: Mr. Franchere, not having the fear of the _Abbé Gaume_
before his eyes, so wrote in his Journal of 1814; finding consolation in
a thought savoring, we confess, more of Virgil than of the catechism. It
is a classic term that calls to our mind rough Captain _Thorn's_
sailor-like contempt for his literary passengers so comically described
by Mr. _Irving_. Half of the humor as well as of the real interest of
Mr. Franchere's charming narrative, is lost by one who has never read

On the 26th, a part of our people embarked in the three canoes which
remained, and the others followed the banks of the river on foot. We saw
in several places some veins of bituminous coal, on the banks between
the surface of the water and that of the plain, say thirty feet below
the latter; the veins had a dip of about 25°. We tried some and found it
to burn well. We halted in the evening near a small stream, where we
constructed some rafts, to carry all our people.

On the 27th, I went forward in the little canoe of skins, with the two
hunters. We soon killed an elk, which we skinned and suspended the hide,
besmeared with blood, from the branch of a tree at the extremity of a
point, in order that the people behind, as they came up, might perceive
and take in the fruit of our chase. After fortifying ourselves with a
little food, we continued to glide down, and encamped for the night near
a thick wood where our hunters, from the tracks they observed, had hopes
of encountering and capturing some bears. This hope was not realized.

On the 28th, a little after quitting camp, we killed a swan. While I was
busy cooking it, the hunters having plunged into the wood, I heard a
rifle-shot, which seemed to me to proceed from a direction opposite to
that which they had taken. They returned very soon running, and were
extremely surprised to learn that it was not I who had fired it.
Nevertheless, the canoes and rafts having overtaken us, we continued to
descend the river. Very soon we met a bark canoe, containing two men and
a woman, who were ascending the river and bringing letters and some
goods for the _Rocky Mountains House_. We learned from these letters
addressed to Mr. Decoigne, several circumstances of the war, and among
others the defeat of Captain Barclay on Lake Erie. We arrived that
evening at _Hunter's Lodge_, where we found four new birch-bark canoes.
We got ready two of them, and resumed our journey down, on the 31st. Mr.
Pillet set out before us with the hunters, at a very early hour. They
killed an elk, which they left on a point, and which we took in. The
country through which we passed that day is the most charming possible;
the river is wide, handsome, and bordered with low outjutting points,
covered with birch and poplar.

On the 1st of June, in the evening, we encamped at the confluence of the
river _Pembina_. This stream comes from the south, and takes its rise in
one of the spurs of the great chain of the Rocky mountains; ascending it
for two days, and crossing a neck of land about seventy-five miles, one
reaches Fort Augustus, a trading post on the _Saskatchawine_ river.
Messrs. M'Donald and M'Kenzie had taken this route, and had left for us
half a sack of pemican in a _cache_, at the mouth of the river
_Pembina_. After landing that evening, Mr. Stuart and I amused ourselves
with angling, but took only five or six small fish.

On the 2d, we passed the confluence of _Little Slave Lake_ river. At
eight o'clock in the morning, we met a band or family of Indians, of the
_Knisteneaux_ tribe. They had just killed a buffalo, which we bought of
them for a small brass-kettle. We could not have had a more seasonable
_rencontre_, for our provisions were all consumed.

On the 3d, we reached _Little Red Elk_ river, which we began to ascend,
quitting the _Athabasca_, or _Great Red Elk_. This stream was very
narrow in its channel, and obstructed with boulders: we were obliged to
take to the shore, while some of the men dragged along the canoes. Their
method was to lash poles across, and wading themselves, lift the canoes
over the rocks--a laborious and infinitely tedious operation. The march
along the banks was not less disagreeable: for we had to traverse points
of forest where the fire had passed, and which were filled with fallen

Wallace and I having stopped to quench our thirst at a rill, the rest
got in advance of us; and we lost our way in a labyrinth of buffalo
tracks which we mistook for the trail, so that we wandered about for
three hours before we came up with the party, who began to fear for our
safety, and were firing signal-guns to direct us. As the river now grew
deeper, we all embarked in the canoes, and about evening overtook our
hunters, who had killed a moose and her two calves.

We continued our journey on the 4th, sometimes seated in our canoes,
sometimes marching along the river on foot, and encamped in the evening,
excessively fatigued.


     Red Deer Lake.--Antoine Déjarlais.--Beaver River.--N.
     Nadeau.--Moose River.--Bridge Lake.--Saskatchawine River.--Fort
     Vermilion.--Mr. Hallet.--Trading-Houses.--Beautiful

The 5th of June brought us to the beautiful sheet of water called _Red
Deer lake_, irregular in shape, dotted with islands, and about forty
miles in length by thirty in its greatest width. We met, about the
middle of it, a small canoe conducted by two young women. They were
searching for gulls' and ducks' eggs on the islands, this being the
season of laying for those aquatics. They told us that their father was
not far distant from the place where we met them. In fact, we presently
saw him appear in a canoe with his two boys, rounding a little isle. We
joined him, and learned that his name was Antoine Déjarlais; that he
had been a guide in the service of the Northwest Company, but had left
them since 1805. On being made acquainted with our need of provisions,
he offered us a great quantity of eggs, and made one of our men embark
with his two daughters in their little canoe, to seek some more
substantial supplies at his cabin, on the other side of the lake. He
himself accompanied us as far as a portage of about twenty-five yards
formed at the outlet of the lake by a Beaver dam. Having performed the
portage, and passed a small pond or marsh, we encamped to await the
return of our man. He arrived the next morning, with Déjarlais, bringing
us about fifty pounds of dried venison and from ten to twelve pounds of
tallow. We invited our host to breakfast with us: it was the least we
could do after the good offices he had rendered us. This man was married
to an Indian woman, and lived with his family, on the produce of his
chase; he appeared quite contented with his lot. Nobody at least
disputed with him the sovereignty of Red Deer lake, of which he had; as
it were, taken possession. He begged me to read for him two letters
which he had had in his possession for two years, and of which he did
not yet know the contents. They were from one of his sisters, and dated
at _Verchères_, in Canada. I even thought that I recognised the
handwriting of Mr. L.G. Labadie, teacher of that parish. At last, having
testified to this good man, in suitable terms, our gratitude for the
services he had rendered us, we quitted him and prosecuted our journey.

After making two portages, we arrived on the banks of Beaver river,
which was here but a rivulet. It is by this route that the canoes
ordinarily pass to reach Little Slave lake and the Athabasca country,
from the head of Lake Superior, via., _Cumberland House_, on _English
river_. We were obliged by the shallowness of the stream, to drag along
our canoes, walking on a bottom or beach of sand, where we began to feel
the importunity of the mosquitoes. One of the hunters scoured the woods
for game but without success. By-and-by we passed a small canoe turned
bottom up and covered with a blanket. Soon after we came to a cabin or
lodge, where we found an old Canadian hunter named _Nadeau_. He was
reduced to the last stage of weakness, having had nothing to eat for two
days. Nevertheless, a young man who was married to one of his daughters,
came in shortly after, with the good news that he had just killed a
buffalo; a circumstance which determined us to encamp there for the
night. We sent some of our men to get in the meat. Nadeau gave us half
of it, and told us that we should find, thirty miles lower down, at the
foot of a pine tree, a _cache_, where he had deposited ten swan-skins,
and some of martin, with a net, which he prayed us to take to the next
trading-post. We quitted this good fellow the next morning, and pursued
our way. Arriving at the place indicated, we found the _cache_, and took
the net, leaving the other articles. A short distance further, we came
to Moose river, which we had to ascend, in order to reach the lake of
that name. The water in this river was so low that we were obliged
entirely to unload the canoes, and to lash poles across them, as we had
done before, that the men might carry them on their shoulders over the
places where they could not be floated. Having distributed the baggage
to the remainder of the hands, we pursued our way through the woods,
under the guidance of Mr. Decoigne.

This gentleman, who had not passed here for nineteen years, soon lost
his way, and we got separated into small parties, in the course of the
afternoon, some going one way, and some another, in search of Moose
lake. But as we had outstripped the men who carried the baggage and the
small stock of provision that old Nadeau had given us, Mr. Wallace and I
thought it prudent to retrace our steps and keep with the rear-guard. We
soon met Mr. Pillet and one of the hunters. The latter, ferreting the
woods on both sides of a trail that he had discovered, soon gave a
whoop, to signify that we should stop. Presently emerging from the
underwood, he showed us a horsewhip which he had found, and from which
and from other unmistakeable signs, he was confident the trail would
lead either to the lake or a navigable part of the river. The men with
the baggage then coming up, we entered the thicket single file, and were
conducted by this path, in a very short time, to the river, on the banks
of which were visible the traces of an old camping ground. The night was
coming on; and soon after, the canoes arrived, to our great
satisfaction; for we had begun to fear that they had already passed. The
splashing of their paddles was a welcome sound, and we who had been wise
enough to keep behind, all encamped together.

Very early on the 8th, I set out accompanied by one of the hunters, in
quest of Messrs. D. Stuart, Clarke and Decoigne, who had gone on ahead,
the night previous. I soon found MM. Clarke and M'Gillis encamped on the
shore of the lake. The canoes presently arrived and we embarked; MM.
Stuart and Decoigne rejoined us shortly after, and informed us that they
had bivouacked on the shore of Lac _Puant_, or Stinking lake, a pond
situated about twelve miles E.N.E. from the lake we were now entering.
Finding ourselves thus reunited, we traversed the latter, which is about
eighteen miles in circuit, and has very pretty shores. We encamped, very
early, on an island, in order to use old Nadeau's fishing net. I visited
it that evening and brought back three carp and two water-hens. We left
it set all night, and the next morning found in it twenty white-fish.
Leaving camp at an early hour, we gained the entrance of a small stream
that descends between some hills of moderate elevation, and there
stopped to breakfast. I found the white-fish more delicious in flavor,
even than the salmon. We had again to foot it, following the bank of
this little stream. It was a painful task, as we were obliged to open a
path through thick underbrush, in the midst of a rain that lasted all
day and kept us drenched. Two men being left in each canoe, conveyed
them up the river about thirty miles, as far as Long lake--a narrow
pond, on the margin of which we spent the night.

On the 10th, we got through this lakelet, and entered another small
stream, which it was necessary to navigate in the same manner as the
preceding, and which conducted us to Bridge lake. The latter received
its name from a sort of bridge or causeway, formed at its southern
extremity, and which is nothing more than a huge beaver dam. We found
here a lodge, where were a young man and two women, who had charge of
some horses appertaining to one of the Hudson's Bay trading houses. We
borrowed of them half a dozen pack horses, and crossed the bridge with
them. After surmounting a considerable hill, we reached an open, level,
and dry prairie, which conducted us in about two hours to an ancient
trading-post on the banks of the _Saskatchawine_. Knowing that we were
near a factory, we made our toilets as well as we could, before
arriving. Toward sundown, we reached Fort Vermilion, which is situated
on the bank of a river, at the foot of a superb hill.

We found at this post some ninety persons, men, women, and children;
these people depend for subsistence on the chase, and fishing with
hooks and lines, which is very precarious. Mr. Hallet, the clerk in
charge was absent, and we were dismayed to hear that there were no
provisions on the place: a very disagreeable piece of news for people
famished as we were. We had been led to suppose that if we could only
reach the plains of the Saskatchawine, we should be in the land of
plenty. Mr. Hallet, however, was not long in arriving: he had two
quarters of buffalo meat brought out, which had been laid in ice, and
prepared us supper. Mr. Hallet was a polite sociable man, loving his
ease passably well, and desirous of living in these wild countries, as
people do in civilized lands. Having testified to him our surprise at
seeing in one of the buildings a large _cariole_, like those of Canada,
he informed us that having horses, he had had this carriage made in
order to enjoy a sleigh-ride; but that the workmen having forgot to take
the measure of the doors of the building before constructing it, it was
found when finished, much too large for them, and could never be got out
of the room where it was; and it was like to remain there a long time,
as he was not disposed to demolish the house for the pleasure of using
the cariole.

By the side of the factory of the Northwest Company, is another
belonging to the Company of Hudson's Bay. In general these
trading-houses are constructed thus, one close to the other, and
surrounded with a common palisade, with a door of communication in the
interior for mutual succor, in case of attack on the part of the
Indians. The latter, in this region, particularly the Black-feet,
_Gros-ventres_, and those of the Yellow river, are very ferocious: they
live by the chase, but bring few furs to the traders; and the latter
maintain these posts principally to procure themselves provisions.

On the. 11th, after breakfasting at Fort Vermilion, we resumed our
journey, with six or seven pounds of tallow for our whole stock of food.
This slender supply brought us through to the evening of the third day,
when we had for supper two ounces of tallow each.

On the 14th, in the morning, we killed a wild goose, and toward midday,
collected some flag-root and _choux-gras_, a wild herb, which we boiled
with the small game: we did not forget to throw into the pot the little
tallow we had left, and made a delicious repast. Toward the decline of
day, we had the good luck to kill a buffalo.

On the 15th, MM. Clarke and Decoigne having landed during our course, to
hunt, returned presently with the agreeable intelligence that they had
killed three buffaloes. We immediately encamped, and sent the greater
part of the men to cut up the meat and jerk it. This operation lasted
till the next evening, and we set forward again in the canoes on the
17th, with about six hundred pounds of meat half cured. The same evening
we perceived from our camp several herds of buffaloes, but did not give
chase, thinking we had enough meat to take us to the next post.

The river _Saskatchawine_ flows over a bed composed of sand and marl,
which contributes not a little to diminish the purity and transparency
of its waters, which, like those of the Missouri, are turbid and
whitish. Except for that it is one of the prettiest rivers in the world.
The banks are perfectly charming, and offer in many places a scene the
fairest, the most smiling, and the best diversified that can be seen or
imagined: hills in varied forms, crowned with superb groves; valleys
agreeably embrowned, at evening and morning, by the prolonged shadow of
the hills, and of the woods which adorn them; herds of light-limbed
antelopes, and heavy colossal buffalo--the former bounding along the
slopes of the hills, the latter trampling under their heavy feet the
verdure of the plains; all these champaign beauties reflected and
doubled as it were, by the waters of the river; the melodious and varied
song of a thousand birds, perched on the tree-tops; the refreshing
breath of the zephyrs; the serenity of the sky; the purity and salubrity
of the air; all, in a word, pours contentment and joy into the soul of
the enchanted spectator. It is above all in the morning, when the sun is
rising, and in the evening when he is setting, that the spectacle is
really ravishing. I could not detach my regards from that superb
picture, till the nascent obscurity had obliterated its perfection.
Then, to the sweet pleasure that I had tasted, succeeded a _triste_, not
to say, a sombre, melancholy. How comes it to pass, I said to myself,
that so beautiful a country is not inhabited by human creatures? The
songs, the hymns, the prayers, of the laborer and the artisan, shall
they never be heard in these fine plains? Wherefore, while in Europe,
and above all in England, so many thousands of men do not possess as
their own an inch of ground, and cultivate the soil of their
country for proprietors who scarcely leave them whereon to support
existence;--wherefore--do so many millions of acres of apparently fat
and fertile land, remain uncultivated and absolutely useless? Or, at
least, why do they support only herds of wild animals? Will men always
love better to vegetate all their lives on an ungrateful soil, than to
seek afar fertile regions, in order to pass in peace and plenty, at
least the last portion of their days? But I deceive myself; it is not
so easy as one thinks, for the poor man to better his condition: he has
not the means of transporting himself to distant countries, or he has
not those of acquiring a property there; for these untilled lands,
deserted, abandoned, do not appertain to whoever wishes to establish
himself upon them and reduce them to culture; they have owners, and from
these must be purchased the right of rendering them productive! Besides
one ought not to give way to illusions: these countries, at times so
delightful, do not enjoy a perpetual spring; they have their winter, and
a rigorous one; a piercing cold is then spread through the atmosphere;
deep snows cover the surface; the frozen rivers flow only for the fish;
the trees are stripped of their leaves and hung with icicles; the
verdure of the plains has disappeared; the hills and valleys offer but a
uniform whiteness; Nature has lost all her beauty; and man has enough to
do, to shelter himself from the injuries of the inclement season.


     Fort Montée--Cumberland House.--Lake Bourbon.--Great Winipeg
     Rapids.--Lake Winipeg.--Trading-House.--Lake of the Woods.--Rainy
     Lake House, &c.

On the 18th of June (a day which its next anniversary was to render for
ever celebrated in the annals of the world), we re-embarked at an early
hour: and the wind rising, spread sail, a thing we had not done before,
since we quitted the river Columbia. In the afternoon the clouds
gathered thick and black, and we had a gust, accompanied with hail, but
of short duration; the weather cleared up again, and about sundown we
arrived at _Le Fort de la Montêe_, so called, on account of its being a
depôt, where the traders going south, leave their canoes and take
pack-horses to reach their several posts. We found here, as at Fort
Vermilion, two trading-houses joined together, to make common cause
against the Indians; one belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, the
other to the company of the Northwest: the Hudson's Bay house being then
under the charge of a Mr. Prudent, and the N.W. Company's under a Mr.
John M'Lean. Mr. de Roche Blave, one of the partners of the last company
having the superintendence of this district, where he had wintered, had
gone to Lake Superior to attend the annual meeting of the partners.
There were cultivated fields around the house; the barley and peas
appeared to promise an abundant harvest. Mr. M'Lean received us as well
as circumstances permitted; but that gentleman having no food to give
us, and our buffalo meat beginning to spoil, we set off the next
morning, to reach Cumberland house as quick as possible. In the course
of the day, we passed two old forts, one of which had been built by the
French before the conquest of Canada. According to our guide, it was the
most distant western post that the French traders ever had in the
northwestern wilderness. Toward evening we shot a moose. The aspect of
the country changes considerably since leaving _Montée_; the banks of
the river rise more boldly, and the country is covered with forests.

On the 20th, we saw some elms--a tree that I had not seen hitherto,
since my departure from Canada. We reached Fort Cumberland a little
before the setting of the sun. This post, called in English _Cumberland
House_, is situated at the outlet of the _Saskatchawine_, where it
empties into _English lake_, between the 53d and 54th degrees of north
latitude. It is a depot for those traders who are going to Slave lake or
the Athabasca, or are returning thence, as well as for those destined
for the Rocky mountains. It was under the orders of Mr. J.D. Campbell,
who having gone down to Fort William, however, had left it in charge of
a Mr. Harrison. There are two factories, as at Vermilion and la Montée.
At this place the traders who resort every year to Fort William, leave
their half-breed or Indian wives and families, as they can live here at
little expense, the lake abounding in fish. Messrs. Clarke and Stuart,
who were behind, arrived on the 22d, and in the evening we had a dance.
They gave us four sacs of pemican, and we set off again, on the 23d, at
eight A.M. We crossed the lake, and entered a small river, and having
made some eighty or ninety miles under sail, encamped on a low shore,
where the mosquitoes tormented us horribly all night.

On the 24th, we passed _Muddy_ lake, and entered Lake _Bourbon_, where
we fell in with a canoe from _York_ factory, under the command of a Mr.
Kennedy, clerk of the Hudson's Bay Company. We collected some dozens of
gulls' eggs, on the rocky islands of the lake: and stopping on one of
the last at night, having a little flour left, Mr. Decoigne and I amused
ourselves in making fritters for the next day's breakfast: an
occupation, which despite the small amount of materials, employed us
till we were surprised by the daybreak; the night being but brief at
this season in that high latitude.

At sunrise on the 25th, we were again afloat, passed Lake _Travers_, or
_Cross_ lake, which empties into Lake Winipeg by a succession of
rapids; shot down these cascades without accident, and arrived, toward
noon, at the great rapid _Ouénipic_ or Winipeg, which is about four
miles long. We disembarked here, and the men worked down the canoes. At
the foot of this rapid, which is the inlet of Winipeg, we found an old
Canadian fisherman, who called himself _King of the lake_. He might
fairly style himself king of the fish, which are abundant and which he
alone enjoyed. Having made a boil, and regaled ourselves with excellent
sturgeon, we left this old man, and entered the great lake Winipeg,
which appeared to me like a sea of fresh water. This lake is now too
well known to need a particular description: I will content myself with
saying that it visibly yields in extent only to Lake Superior and Great
Slave lake: it has for tributaries several large rivers, and among
others the Saskatchawine, the Winipeg, in the east; and Red river in the
south; and empties into Hudson's bay by the _Nelson_, N.N.E., and the
_Severn_, E.N.E. The shores which it bathes are generally very low; it
appears to have little depth, and is dotted with a vast number of
islands, lying pretty close to land. We reached one called _Egg island_,
whence it was necessary to cross to the south to reach the main; but the
wind was so violent that it was only at decline of day that we could
perform the passage. We profited by the calm, to coast along all day and
a part of the night of the 26th; but to pay for it, remained in camp on
the 27th, till evening: the wind not suffering us to proceed. The wind
having appeared to abate somewhat after sunset, we embarked, but were
soon forced to land again. On the 28th, we passed the openings of
several deep bays, and the isles of _St. Martin_, and camped at the
bottom of a little bay, where the mosquitoes did not suffer us to close
our eyes all night. We were rejoiced when dawn appeared, and were eager
to embark, to free ourselves from these inconvenient guests. A calm
permitted us that day to make good progress with our oars, and we camped
at _Buffalo Strait_. We saw that day two Indian wigwams.

The 30th brought us to Winipeg river, which we began to ascend, and
about noon reached Port _Bas de la Rivière_. This trading post had more
the air of a large and well-cultivated farm, than of a fur traders'
factory: a neat and elegant mansion, built on a slight eminence, and
surrounded with barns, stables, storehouses, &c., and by fields of
barley, peas, oats, and potatoes, reminded us of the civilized countries
which we had left so long ago. Messrs. Crébassa and Kennedy, who had
this post in charge, received us with all possible hospitality, and
supplied us with all the political news which had been learned through
the arrival of canoes from Canada.

They also informed us that Messrs M'Donald and de Rocheblave had passed,
a few days before our arrival, having been obliged to go up Red river to
stop the effusion of blood, which would probably have taken place but
for their intervention, in the colony founded on that river by the earl
of Selkirk. Mr. Miles M'Donnell, the governor of that colony, or rather
of the _Assiniboyne_ district, had issued a proclamation forbidding all
persons whomsoever, to send provisions of any kind out of the district.
The Hudson's Bay traders had conformed to this proclamation, but those
of the Northwest Company paid no attention to it, thinking it illegal,
and had sent their servants, as usual to get provisions up the river.
Mr. M'Donnell having heard that several hundred sacks of pemican[AH]
were laid up in a storehouse under the care of a Mr. Pritchard, sent to
require their surrender: Pritchard refused to deliver them, whereupon
Mr. M'Donnell had them carried off by force. The traders who winter on
Little Slave lake, English river, the Athabasca country, &c., learning
this, and being aware that they would not find their usual supply at
_Bas de la Rivière_, resolved to go and recover the seized provisions by
force, if they were not peaceably given up. Things were in this position
when Messrs, de Rocheblave and M'Donald arrived. They found the Canadian
_voyageurs_ in arms, and ready to give battle to the colonists, who
persisted in their refusal to surrender the bags of pemican. The two
peacemakers visited the governor, and having explained to him the
situation in which the traders of the Northwest Company would find
themselves, by the want of necessary provisions to enable them to
transport their peltries to Fort William, and the exasperation of their
men, who saw no other alternative for them, but to get possession of
those provisions or to perish of hunger, requested him to surrender the
same without delay. Mr. M'Donnell, on his part, pointed out the misery
to which the colonists would be reduced by a failure in the supply of
food. In consequence of these mutual representations, it was agreed that
one half of the pemican should be restored, and the other half remain
for the use of the colonists. Thus was arranged, without bloodshed, the
first difficulty which occurred between the rival companies of the
Northwest, and of Hudson's Bay.

[Footnote AH: _Pemican_, of which I have already spoken several times,
is the Indian name for the dried and pounded meat which the natives sell
to the traders. About fifty pounds of this meat is placed in a trough
(_un grand vaisseau fait d'un tronc d'arbre_), and about an equal
quantity of tallow is melted and poured over it; it is thoroughly mixed
into one mass, and when cold, is put up in bags made of undressed
buffalo hide, with the hair outside, and sewed up as tightly as
possible. The meat thus impregnated with tallow, hardens, and will keep
for years. It is eaten without any other preparation; but sometimes wild
pears or dried berries are added, which render the flavor more

Having spent the 1st of July in repairing our canoes, we re-embarked on
the 2d, and continued to ascend Winipeg river, called also _White
river_, on account of the great number of its cascades, which being very
near each other, offer to the sight an almost continuous foam. We made
that day twenty-seven portages, all very short. On the 3d, and 4th, we
made nine more, and arrived on the 5th, at the _Lake of the Woods_. This
lake takes its name from the great number of woody islands with which it
is dotted. Our guide pointed out to me one of these isles, telling me
that a Jesuit father had said mass there, and that it was the most
remote spot to which those missionaries had ever penetrated. We encamped
on one of the islands. The next day the wind did not allow us to make
much progress. On the 7th, we gained the entrance of _Rainy Lake river_.
I do not remember ever to have seen elsewhere so many mosquitoes as on
the banks of this river. Having landed near a little rapid to lighten
the canoes, we had the misfortune, in getting through the brush, to
dislodge these insects from under the leaves where they had taken refuge
from the rain of the night before; they attached themselves to us,
followed us into the canoes, and tormented us all the remainder of the

On the 8th, at sunset, we reached _Rainy Lake House_. This fort is
situated about a mile from a considerable rapid. We saw here cultivated
fields and domestic animals, such as horses, oxen, cows, &c. The port is
a depôt for the wintering parties of the Athabasca, and others still
more remote, who bring to it their peltries and return from it with
their outfits of merchandise. Mr. John Dease, to whose charge the place
had been confided, received us in the most friendly manner possible; and
after having made an excellent supper, we danced a part of the evening.

We took leave of Mr. Dease on the 10th, well provided for the journey,
and passing round Rainy Lake falls, and then traversing the lake
itself, which I estimated to be forty miles long, we encamped at the
entrance of a small river. On the next day we pursued our way, now
thridding streams impeded with wild rice, which rendered our progress
difficult, now traversing little lakes, now passing straits where we
scarcely found water to float our canoes. On the 13th, we encamped near
_Dog Portage (Portage des chiens_), where, from not having followed the
advice of Mr. Dease, who had counselled us to take along a bag of
pemican, we found ourselves absolutely without food.


     Arrival at Fort William.--Description of the Fort.--News from the
     River Columbia.

Starving men are early-risers. We set out on the 14th before day, and
effected the portage, which is long and difficult. At the foot of the
rapid we found a sort of _restaurant_ or _cabaret_, kept by a man named
_Boucher_. We treated the men to a little _eau de vie_, and breakfasted
on some detestable sausages, poisoned with salt.

After this wretched repast, we set out again, and passed toward noon,
the _Mountain Portage_. Here the river _Kaministiquia_ flings itself
over a rock of immense height, and forms a fall scarcely less curious to
see than that of Niagara. Below, the succession of falls and rapids is
constant, so that we made no fewer than thirty-six portages in the
course of the day. Nevertheless we pursued our laborious way with good
cheer, and without a murmur from our Canadian boatmen, who kept their
spirits up by singing their _voyageur_ songs. At last, at about nine
o'clock in the evening, we arrived at Fort William.

Fort William is situated on Lake Superior, at the mouth of the
_Kaministiquia_ river, about forty-five miles north of old _Grand
Portage_. It was built in 1805, when the two rival Canadian companies
were united, and was named in honor of Mr. (now the Honorable) William
M'Gillivray, principal agent of the Northwest Company. The proprietors,
perceiving that the old fort of _Grand Portage_ was on the territory
claimed by the American government, resolved to demolish it and build
another on the British territory. No site appeared more advantageous
than the present for the purposes intended; the river is deep, of easy
access, and offers a safe harbor for shipping. It is true they had to
contend with all the difficulties consequent on a low and swampy soil;
but by incredible labor and perseverance they succeeded in draining the
marshes and reducing the loose and yielding soil to solidity.

Fort William has really the appearance of a fort, with its palisade
fifteen feet high, and that of a pretty village, from the number of
edifices it encloses. In the middle of a spacious square rises a large
building elegantly constructed, though of wood, with a long piazza or
portico, raised about five feet from the ground, and surmounted by a
balcony, extending along the whole front. In the centre is a saloon or
hall, sixty feet in length by thirty in width, decorated with several
pieces of painting, and some portraits of the leading partners. It is in
this hall that the agents, partners, clerks, interpreters, and guides,
take their meals together, at different tables. At each extremity of the
apartment are two rooms; two of these are destined for the two principal
agents; the other two to the steward and his department. The kitchen and
servants' rooms are in the basement. On either side of this edifice, is
another of the same extent, but of less elevation; they are each
divided by a corridor running through its length, and contain each, a
dozen pretty bed-rooms. One is destined for the wintering partners, the
other for the clerks. On the east of the square is another building
similar to the last two, and intended for the same use, and a warehouse
where the furs are inspected and repacked for shipment. In the rear of
these, are the lodging-house of the guides, another fur-warehouse, and
finally, a powder magazine. The last is of stone, and has a roof covered
with tin. At the angle is a sort of bastion, or look-out place,
commanding a view of the lake. On the west side is seen a range of
buildings, some of which serve for stores, and others for workshops;
there is one for the equipment of the men, another for the fitting out
of the canoes, one for the retail of goods, another where they sell
liquors, bread, pork, butter, &c., and where a treat is given to the
travellers who arrive. This consists in a white loaf, half a pound of
butter, and a gill of rum. The _voyageurs_ give this tavern the name of
_Cantino salope_. Behind all this is another range, where we find the
counting-house, a fine square building, and well-lighted; another
storehouse of stone, tin-roofed; and a _jail_, not less necessary than
the rest. The _voyageurs_ give it the name of _pot au beurre_--the
butter-tub. Beyond these we discover the shops of the carpenter, the
cooper, the tinsmith, the blacksmith, &c.; and spacious yards and sheds
for the shelter, reparation, and construction of canoes. Near the gate
of the fort, which is on the south, are the quarters of the physician,
and those of the chief clerk. Over the gate is a guard-house.

As the river is deep at its entrance, the company has had a wharf
constructed, extending the whole length of the fort, for the discharge
of the vessels which it keeps on Lake Superior, whether to transport its
furs from Fort William to the _Saut Ste. Marie_, or merchandise and
provisions from _Saut Ste. Marie_ to Fort William. The land behind the
fort and on both sides of it, is cleared and under tillage. We saw
barley, peas, and oats, which had a very fine appearance. At the end of
the clearing is the burying-ground. There are also, on the opposite bank
of the river, a certain number of log-houses, all inhabited by old
Canadian _voyageurs_, worn out in the service of the company, without
having enriched themselves. Married to women of the country, and
incumbered with large families of half-breed children, these men prefer
to cultivate a little Indian corn and potatoes, and to fish, for a
subsistence, rather than return to their native districts, to give their
relatives and former acquaintance certain proofs of their misconduct or
their imprudence.

Fort William is the grand depôt of the Northwest Company for their
interior posts, and the general _rendezvous_ of the partners. The agents
from Montreal and the wintering partners assemble here every summer, to
receive the returns of the respective outfits, prepare for the
operations of the ensuing season, and discuss the general interests of
their association. The greater part of them were assembled at the time
of our arrival. The wintering hands who are to return with their
employers, pass also a great part of the summer here; they form a great
encampment on the west side of the fort, outside the palisades. Those
who engage at Montreal to go no further than Fort William or _Rainy
lake_, and who do not _winter_, occupy yet another space, on the east
side. The winterers, or _hivernants_, give to these last the name of
_mangeurs de lard_, or pork-eaters. They are also called
_comers-and-goers_. One perceives an astonishing difference between
these two camps, which are composed sometimes of three or four hundred
men each; that of the pork-eaters is always dirty and disorderly, while
that of the winterers is clean and neat.

To clear its land and improve its property, the company inserts a clause
in the engagement of all who enter its service as canoe-men, that they
shall work for a certain number of days during their stay at Fort
William. It is thus that it has cleared and drained the environs of the
fort, and has erected so many fine buildings. But when a hand has once
worked the stipulated number of days, he is for ever after exempt, even
if he remain in the service twenty or thirty years, and should come down
to the fort every summer.

They received us very courteously at Fort William, and I perceived by
the reception given to myself in particular, that thanks to the Chinook
dialect of which I was sufficiently master, they would not have asked
better than to give me employment, on advantageous terms. But I felt a
great deal more eagerness to arrive in Montreal, than desire to return
to the River Columbia.

A few days after we reached Fort William, Mr. Keith made his appearance
there from Fort George, or Astoria, with the news of the arrival of the
"Isaac Todd" in the Columbia river. This vessel, which was a dull
sailer, had been kept back a long time by contrary winds in doubling
Cape Horn, and had never been able to rejoin the vessels-of-war, her
consorts, from which she was then separated. When she reached the
_rendezvous_ at the island of Juan Fernandez, finding that the three
ships-of-war had sailed, the captain and passengers, as they were short
of provisions, determined to range the coast. Entering the harbor of
_Monterey_,[AI] on the coast of California, in order to obtain
provisions, they learned that there was an English vessel-of-war in
distress, in the bay of _San Francisco_.[AJ] They repaired thither
accordingly, and found, to their great surprise, that it was the sloop
_Raccoon_. This vessel, in getting out of the River Columbia, had
touched on the bar, with such violence, that a part of her false keel
was carried away; and she had with difficulty made San Francisco, with
seven feet of water in the hold, although her crew had been constantly
at the pumps. Captain Black, finding it impossible to repair his ship,
had decided to abandon her, and to cross the continent to the Gulf of
Mexico, thence to reach some of the British West India islands. However,
on the arrival of the Isaac Todd, means were found to careen the vessel
and repair the damage. The Isaac Todd then pursued her voyage and
entered the Columbia on the 17th of April, thirteen months after her
departure from England.

[Footnote AI: A Spanish mission or presidency, in about the 36th degree
of latitude.]

[Footnote AJ: Another Spanish presidency, in about the 38th degree of
latitude, and the first European establishment to be met with south of
the Columbia. [These now obsolete notes are interesting as indicative of
the period when they were written.--ED.]]


     Departure from Fort William.--Navigation on Lake
     Superior.--Michipicoton Bay.--Meeting a Canoe.--Batchawainon
     Bay.--Arrival at Saut Ste Marie.--Occurrences
     there.--Departure.--Lake Huron.--French River.--Lake
     Nipissing.--Ottawa River.--Kettle Falls.--Rideau
     River.--Long-Saut.--Arrival in Montreal--Conclusion.

On the 20th of July, in the evening, Mr. D. Stuart notified me that he
should start the next morning for Montreal, in a light canoe. I
immediately wrote to my relatives: but the next morning Mr. Stuart told
me that I was to be myself the bearer of my letters, by embarking with
him. I got ready my effects, and toward evening we quitted Fort William,
with fourteen stout _voyageurs_ to man our large canoe, and were soon
floating on the bosom of the largest body of fresh water on the surface
of the globe. We counted six passengers, namely, Messrs. D. Stuart, D.
M'Kenzie, J. M'Donald, J. Clarke, myself, and a little girl of eight or
nine years, who came from Kildonan, on Red river. We passed the first
night on one of the islands in _Thunder bay_, so named on account of the
frequent storms, accompanied with lightning and thunder, which burst
over it at certain seasons of the year. On the 22d and 23d, we continued
to range the southern coast of Lake Superior. The navigation of this
superb lake would be extremely agreeable but for the thick fogs which
reign during a part of the day, and do not permit a rapid progress. On
the 24th, we dined at a small trading establishment called _Le Pic_,
where we had excellent fish.

On the 26th, we crossed _Michipicoton bay_, which, at its entrance, may
be nine miles wide, and twenty fathoms deep. As we were nearing the
eastern point, we met a small canoe, having on board Captain M'Cargo,
and the crew of one of the schooners owned by the company. Mr. M'Cargo
informed us that he had just escaped from _Saut Ste. Marie_, whither the
Americans had sent a detachment of one hundred and fifty men; and that
having been obliged to abandon his schooner, he had set fire to her. In
consequence of this news it was resolved that the canoe on which we were
proceeding, should return to Fort William. I embarked, with Mr. Stuart
and two men, in Captain M'Cargo's canoe, while he and his crew took our
places. In the haste and confusion of this exchange, which was made on
the lake, they gave us a ham, a little tea and sugar, and a bag
containing about twenty-five pounds of flour, but forgot entirely a
kettle, knives, forks, and so on, all articles which Mr. M'Cargo had not
time to take when he left _Saut Ste. Marie_. We subsisted miserably in
consequence for two days and a half that we continued to coast the lake
before reaching any post. We moistened in the bag a little flour, and
having kneaded it, made cakes, which we baked on flat stones by our camp

On the 29th, we reached Batchawainon, where we found some women, who
prepared us food and received us well. It is a poor little post,
situated at the bottom of a sandy cove, which offers nothing agreeable
to the eye. Mr. Frederic Goedike, who resided here, was gone to see what
had taken place at Saut Ste. Marie. He returned the next day, and told
us that the Americans had come, with a force of one hundred and fifty
men, under the command of Major Holmes; and that after having pillaged
that they all considered worth taking, of the property of the N.W.
Company and that of a Mr. Johnston, they had set fire to the houses,
warehouses, &c., belonging to the company and to that gentleman, and
retired, without molesting any other person.[AK] Our canoe arrived from
Fort William in the evening, with that of Mr. M'Gillivray; and on the
morrow we all repaired to Saut Ste. Marie, where we saw the ruins which
the enemy had left. The houses, stores, and saw-mills of the company
were still smoking.

[Footnote AK: The N.W. Company having raised a regiment composed of
their own servants, and known as the _voyageur corps_, and having also
instigated to war, and armed, the Indian tribes, over which they had
influence, had brought on themselves this act of retaliation. Mr.
Johnston also had engaged actively in the war against the United

The schooner was at the foot of the rapids; the Americans had run her
down, but she grounded on a ledge of rocks, whence they could not
dislodge her, and so they had burnt her to the water's edge.

_Le Saut de Ste. Marie_, or as it is shortly called, _Saut Ste. Marie_,
is a rapid at the outlet of Lake Superior, and may be five hundred or
six hundred yards wide; its length may be estimated at three quarters of
a mile, and the descent of the water at about twenty feet. At the lower
extremity the river widens to about a mile, and here there are a certain
number of houses. The north bank belongs to Great Britain; the southern
to the United States. It was on the American side that Mr. Johnston
lived. Before the war he was collector of the port for the American
government. On the same side resided a Mr. Nolin, with his family,
consisting of three half-breed boys and as many girls, one of whom was
passably pretty. He was an old Indian trader, and his house and
furniture showed signs of his former prosperity. On the British side we
found Mr. Charles Ermatinger, who had a pretty establishment: he dwelt
temporarily in a house that belonged to Nolin, but he was building
another of stone, very elegant, and had just finished a grist mill. He
thought that the last would lead the inhabitants to sow more grain than
they did. These inhabitants are principally old Canadian boatmen,
married to half-breed or Indian women. The fish afford them subsistence
during the greater part of the year, and provided they secure potatoes
enough to carry them through the remainder, they are content. It is to
be regretted that these people are not more industrious, for the land is
very fertile.

On the 1st of August, an express was sent to _Michilimackinac_
(Mackinaw) to inform the commandant thereof what had happened at _Saut
Ste. Marie_. While expecting the return of the messenger, we put
ourselves in a state of defence, in case that by chance the Americans
should make another irruption. The thing was not improbable, for
according to some expressions which fell from one of their number who
spoke French, their objects was to capture the furs of the Northwest
Company, which were expected to arrive shortly from the interior. We
invited some Indians, who were camped on _Pine Point_, at some distance
from the _Saut_, to help us in case of need; which they promised to do.
Meanwhile we had no provisions, as everything had been carried off by
the American forces, and were obliged to subsist on such brook trout as
we could take with hook and line, and on wild raspberries.

On the 4th, the express returned, without having been able to accomplish
his mission: he had found the island of Mackinaw so completely blockaded
by the enemy, that it was impossible to reach it, without running the
greatest risk of being made prisoner.

On the 12th, we heard distinctly the discharges of artillery which our
people were firing off at Michilimackinac, although the distance was
nearly sixty miles. We thought it was an attempt of the enemy to retake
that post, but we afterward learned that it was only a royal salute in
honor of the birthday of the prince regent. We learned, however, during
our stay at Saut Ste. Marie, that the Americans had really made a
descent upon the island, but were compelled to retire with a
considerable loss.

On the 19th, some of the partners arrived from Fort William, preceding
the flotilla which was coming down richly laden with furs. They sent on
Mr. Decoigne in a light canoe, with letters to Montreal, to order
provisions to meet this brigade.

On the 21st, the canoe on which I was a passenger, was sent to the mouth
of _French_ river, to observe the motions of the enemy. The route lay
between a range of low islands, and a shelvy beach, very monotonous and
dreary. We remained at the entrance of the aforesaid river till the
25th, when the fleet of loaded canoes, forty-seven in number, arrived
there. The value of the furs which they carried could not be estimated
at less than a million of dollars: an important prize for the Americans,
if they could have laid their hands upon it. We were three hundred and
thirty-five men, all well armed; a large camp was formed, with a
breast-work of fur-packs, and we kept watch all night. The next morning
we began to ascend French river, and were soon out of reach of the
dreaded foe. French river flows from the N.E. and empties into Lake
Huron, about one hundred and twenty miles from Saut Ste. Marie. We
reached Lake Nipissing, of which it is the outlet, the same evening, and
encamped. We crossed that lake on the 27th, made a number of portages,
and encamped again, not far from _Mattawan_.

On the 28th we entered, at an early hour, the river _Ottawa_, and
encamped, in the evening, at the _Portage des deux Joachims_. This is a
grand river, but obstructed by many falls and rapids on its way to join
the St. Lawrence; which caused us to make many portages, and so we
arrived on the 31st at _Kettle falls_.

The rock which here arrests the course of the _Ottawa_, extends from
shore to shore, and so completely cuts off the waters, that at the time
we passed none was seen falling over, but sinking by subterranean
channels, or fissures in the rock, it boiled up below, from seven or
eight different openings, not unlike water in a huge caldron, whence the
first explorers of the country gave it the name of _Chaudière_ or
Caldron falls. Mr. P. Wright resided in this place, where he had a fine
establishment and a great number of men employed in cultivating the
land, and getting out lumber.

We left the _Chaudières_ a little before sunset, and passed very soon
the confluence of the _Rideau_ or _Curtain river_. This river, which
casts itself into the Ottawa over a rock twenty-five by thirty feet
high, is divided in the middle of the fall by a little island, which
parts the waters into two white sheets, resembling a double curtain open
in the middle and spreading out below. The _coup d'oeil_ is really
picturesque; the rays of the setting sun, which struck the waters
obliquely as we passed, heightened exceedingly their beauty, and
rendered it worthy of a pencil more skilful than mine.

We voyaged till midnight, when we stopped to let our men take a little
repose. This rest was only for two hours. At sunrise on the 1st
September, we reached _Long-Saut_, where, having procured guides, we
passed that dangerous rapid, and set foot on shore near the
dwelling-house of a Mr. M'Donell, who sent us milk and fruits for our
breakfast. Toward noon we passed the lake of the Two Mountains, where I
began to see the mountain of my native isle. About two o'clock, we
passed the rapids of St. Ann.[AL] Soon after we came opposite _Saut St.
Louis_ and the village of _Caughnawago_, passed that last rapid of so
many, and landed at Montreal, a little before sunset.

[Footnote AL: "Far-famed and so well described," adds Mr. Franchere, in
his own translation, but I prefer to leave the expression in its
original striking simplicity, as he wrote it before he had heard of
MOORE. Every reader remembers:--

     "Soon as the woods on shore grow dim,
     We'll sing at St. Ann's our parting hymn."

     _Canadian Boatman's Song_.]

I hastened to the paternal roof, where the family were not less
surprised than overjoyed at beholding me. Not having heard of me, since
I had sailed from New York, they had believed, in accordance with the
common report, that I had been murdered by the savages, with Mr. M'Kay
and the crew of the Tonquin: and certainly, it was by the goodness of
Providence that I found myself thus safe and sound, in the midst of my
relations and friends, at the end of a voyage accompanied by so many
perils, and in which so many of my companions had met with an untimely


     Present State of the Countries visited by the Author.--Correction
     of Mr. Irving's Statements respecting St. Louis.

The last chapter closes the original French narrative of my travels
around and across the continent, as published thirty-three years ago.
The translation follows that narrative as exactly as possible, varying
from it only in the correction of a few not very important errors of
fact. It speaks of places and persons as I spoke of them then. I would
not willingly lose the verisimilitude of this natural and unadorned
description, in order to indulge in any new turns of style or more
philosophical reflections.

But since that period many changes have occurred in the scenes which I
so long ago visited and described. Though they are well known, I may be
pardoned for alluding to them.

The natives of the Sandwich islands, who were in a state of paganism at
that time, have since adopted a form of Christianity, have made
considerable progress in imitating the civilization of Europe, and even,
at this moment, begin to entertain the idea of annexation to the United
States. It appears, however, that the real natives are rapidly dwindling
away by the effects of their vices, which an exotic and ill-assimilated
civilization has rather increased than diminished, and to which religion
has not succeeded in applying a remedy.

At the mouth of the Columbia, whole tribes, and among them, the
_Clatsops_, have been swept away by disease. Here again, licentious
habits universally diffused, spread a fatal disorder through the whole
nation, and undermining the constitutions of all, left them an easy prey
to the first contagion or epidemic sickness. But missionaries of various
Christian sects have labored among the Indians of the Columbia also; not
to speak of the missions of the Catholic Church, so well known by the
narrative of Father De Smet and others; and numbers have been taught to
cultivate the soil, and thus to provide against the famines to which
they were formerly exposed from their dependence on the precarious
resources of the chase; while others have received, in the faith of
Christ, the true principle of national permanence, and a living germ of
civilization, which may afterward be developed.

Emigration has also carried to the Oregon the axe of the settler, as
well as the canoe and pack of the fur-trader. The fertile valleys and
prairies of the Willamet--once the resort of the deer, the elk, and the
antelope, are now tilled by the industrious husbandman. Oregon City, so
near old "Astoria," whose first log fort I saw and described, is now an
Archiepiscopal see, and the capital of a territory, which must soon be a
state of the Union.

Of the regions east of the mountains described in my itinerary, little
can be said in respect to improvement: they remain in the same wild
state. The interest of the Hudson's Bay Company, as an association of
fur-traders, is opposed to agricultural improvements, whose operation
would be to drive off and extinguish the wild animals that furnish their
commerce with its object. But on Lake Superior steamboats have
supplanted the birch-bark canoe of the Indian and the fur-trader, and at
Saut Ste. Marie, especially on the American side, there is now every
sign of prosperity. How remote and wild was the region beyond, through
which I passed, may be estimated by the fact that in thirty-eight years
the onward-rolling wave of our population has but just reached its

Canada, although it has not kept pace with the United States, has yet
wonderfully advanced in forty years. The valley of the Ottawa, that
great artery of the St. Lawrence, where I thought it worth while to
notice the residence of an enterprising farmer and lumber merchant, is
now a populous district, well cultivated, and sprinkled with villages,
towns, and cities.

The reader, in perusing my first chapter, found a description of the
city of New York in 1810, and of the neighboring village of Brooklyn.
It would be superfluous to establish a comparison at this day. At that
time, it will be observed, the mere breaking out of war between America
and England was thought to involve the sacrifice of an American
commercial establishment on the Pacific, on the ground of its supplies
being necessarily cut off (it was supposed), and of the United States
government being unable to protect it from hostile attack. At present it
suffices to remark that while New York, then so inconsiderable a port,
is now perhaps the third city in the world, the United States also, are,
undoubtedly, a first-rate power, unassailable at home, and formidable
abroad, to the greatest nations.

As in my preface I alluded to Mr. Irving's "Astoria," as reflecting, in
my opinion, unjustly, upon the young men engaged in the first expedition
to the mouth of the Columbia, it may suffice here to observe, without
entering into particulars, that my narrative, which I think answers for
its own fidelity, clearly shows that some of them, at least did not want
courage, activity, zeal for the interests of the company, while it
existed, and patient endurance of hardship. And although it forms no
part of the narrative or my voyage, yet as subsequent visits to the West
and an intimate knowledge of St. Louis, enable me to correct Mr.
Irving's poetical rather than accurate description of that place, I may
well do it here. St. Louis now bids fair to rival ere long the "Queen of
the West;" Mr. Irving describes her as a small trading place, where
trappers, half-breeds, gay, frivolous Canadian boatmen, &c., &c.,
congregated and revelled, with that lightness and buoyancy of spirit
inherited from their French forefathers; the indolent Creole of St.
Louis caring for little more than the enjoyment of the present hour; a
motley population, half-civilized, half-barbarous, thrown, on his
canvas, into one general, confused (I allow highly _picturesque_) mass,
without respect of persons: but it is fair to say, with due homage to
the talent of the sketcher, who has verged slightly on caricature in the
use of that humor-loving pencil admired by all the world, that St. Louis
even then contained its noble, industrious, and I may say, princely
merchants; it could boast its _Chouteaus_, _Soulands_, _Céré_,
_Chéniers_, _Vallées_, and _La Croix_, with other kindred spirits, whose
descendants prove the worth of their sires by their own, and are now
among the leading business men, as their fathers were the pioneers, of
the flourishing St. Louis.

With these remarks, which I make simply as an act of justice in
connection with the general subject of the founding of "Astoria," but in
which I mean to convey no imputation on the intentional fairness of the
accomplished author to whom I have alluded, I take a respectful leave of
my readers.


In Chapter XVII. I promised the reader to give him an account of the
fate of some of the persons who left Astoria before, and after its sale
or transfer to the British. I will now redeem that pledge.

[Footnote AM: We have thought it best to give this Appendix, excepting
some abbreviations rendered necessary to avoid repetition of what has
been stated before, in Mr. Franchere's own words, particularly as a
specimen of his own English style may be justly interesting to the

Messrs. Ramsay Crooks, R. M'Lelland, and Robert Stuart, after enduring
all sorts of fatigue, dangers and hair-breadth escapes with their
lives--all which have been so graphically described by Washington Irving
in his "Astoria," finally reached St. Louis and New York.

Mr. Clapp went to the Marquesas Islands, where he entered into the
service of his country in the capacity of Midshipman under Commodore
Porter--made his escape from there in company with Lieutenant Gamble of
the Marine corps, by directions of the Commodore, was captured by the
British, landed at Buenos Ayres, and finally reached New York.

D. M'Dougall, as a reward for betraying the trust reposed in him by Mr.
Astor, was made a Partner of the Northwest Company, crossed the
mountains, and died a miserable death at _Bas de la Rivière_, Winipeg.
Donald M'Kenzie, his coadjutor, went back to the Columbia River, where
he amassed a considerable fortune, with which he retired, and lived in
Chautauque County in this state, where he died a few years since unknown
and neglected:--he was a very selfish man, who cared for no one but

It remains only to speak of Messrs. J.C. Halsey, Russell, Farnham, and
Alfred Seton, who, it will be remembered, embarked with Mr. Hunt on the
"Pedlar," in Feb. 1814.

Leaving the River about the 1st of April, they proceeded to the Russian
establishment at Sitka, Norfolk Sound, where they fell in with two or
three more American vessels, which had come to trade with the natives or
to avoid the British cruisers. While there, a sail under British colors
appeared, and Mr. Hunt sent Mr. Seton to ascertain who she was. She
turned out to be the "Forester," Captain Pigott, a repeating signal ship
and letter-of-marque, sent from England in company of a fleet intended
for the South Seas. On further acquaintance with the captain, Mr. Seton
(from whom I derive these particulars) learned a fact which has never
before been published, and which will show the solicitude and
perseverance of Mr. ASTOR. After despatching the "Lark" from New York,
fearing that she might be intercepted by the British, he sent orders to
his correspondent in England to purchase and fit out a British bottom,
and despatch her to the Columbia to relieve the establishment.

When Mr. Hunt learned this fact, he determined to leave Mr. Halsey at
Sitka, and proceeding himself northward, landed Mr. Farnham on the coast
of _Kamskatka_, to go over land with despatches for Mr. Astor. Mr.
Farnham accomplished the journey, reached Hamburg, whence he sailed for
the West Indies, and finally arrived at New York, having made the entire
circuit of the globe.

The "Pedlar" then sailed to the southeast, and soon reached the coast of
California, which she approached to get a supply of provisions. Nearing
one of the harbors, they descried a vessel at anchor inside, showing
American colors. Hauling their wind, they soon came close to the
stranger, which, to their surprise, turned out to be the Spanish
corvette "Santa Barbara," which sent boats alongside the "Pedlar," and
captured her, and kept possession of the prize for some two months,
during which they dropped down to _San Blas_. Here Mr. Hunt proposed to
Mr. Seton to cross the continent and reach the United States the best
way he could. Mr. Seton, accordingly, went to the Isthmus of Darien,
where he was detained several months by sickness, but finally reached
Carthagena, where a British fleet was lying in the roads, to take off
the English merchants, who in consequence of the revolutionary
movements going on, sought shelter under their own flag. Here Mr. Seton,
reduced to the last stage of destitution and squalor, boldly applied to
Captain Bentham, the commander of the squadron, who, finding him to be a
gentleman, offered him every needful assistance, gave him a berth in his
own cabin, and finally landed him safely on the Island of Jamaica,
whence he, too, found his way to New York.

Of all those engaged in the expedition there are now but four
survivors--Ramsay Crooks, Esq. the late President of the American Fur
Company; Alfred Seton, Esq., Vice-president of the Sun Mutual Insurance
Company; both of New York city; Benjamin Pillet of Canada; and the
author, living also in New York. All the rest have paid the debt of
nature, but their names are recorded in the foregoing pages.

Notwithstanding the illiberal remarks made by Captain Thorn on the
persons who were on board the ill-fated Tonquin, and reproduced by Mr.
Irving in his "Astoria"--these young men who were represented as "Bar
keepers or Billiard markers, most of whom had fled from Justice, &c."--I
feel it a duty to say that they were for the most part, of good
parentage, liberal education and every way were qualified to discharge
the duties of their respective stations. The remarks on the general
character of the voyageurs employed as boat-men and Mechanics, and the
attempt to cast ridicule on their "Braggart and swaggering manners" come
with a bad grace from the author of "Astoria," when we consider that in
that very work Mr. Irving is compelled to admit their indomitable
energy, their fidelity to their employers, and their cheerfulness under
the most trying circumstances in which men can be placed.

With respect to Captain Thorn, I must confess that though a stern
commander and an irritable man, he paid the strictest attention to the
health of his crew. His complaints of the squalid appearance of the
Canadians and mechanics who were on board, can be abated of their force
by giving a description of the accommodation of these people. The
Tonquin was a small ship; its forecastle was destined for the crew
performing duty before the mast. The room allotted for the accommodation
of the twenty men destined for the establishment, was abaft the
forecastle; a bulk-head had been let across, and a door led from the
forecastle into a dark, unventilated, unwholesome place, where they were
all heaped together, without means of locomotion, and consequently
deprived of that exercise of the body so necessary to health. Add to
that, we had no physician on board. In view of these facts, can the
complaints of the gallant Captain be sustained? Of course Mr. Irving was
ignorant of these circumstances, as well as of many others which he
might have known, had some one suggested to him to ask a few questions
of persons who were within his reach at the time of his publication. I
have (I need scarcely say) no personal animosity against the unfortunate
Captain; he always treated me, individually, as well as I could expect;
and if, in the course of my narrative, I have been severe on his
actions, I was impelled by a sense of justice to my friends on board,
as well as by the circumstance that such explanations of his general
deportment were requisite to convey the historical truth to my readers.

The idea of a conspiracy against him on board is so absurd that it
really does not deserve notice. The threat, or rather the proposal made
to him by Mr. M'Kay, in the following words--"if you say fight, fight it
is"--originated in a case where one of the sailors had maltreated a
Canadian lad, who came to complain to Mr. M'Kay. The captain would not
interpose his authority, and said in my presence, "Let them fight out
their own battles:"--it was upon that answer that Mr. M'Kay gave vent to
the expression quoted above. I might go on with a long list of
inaccuracies, more or less grave or trivial, in the beautifully written
work of Mr. Irving, but it would be tedious to go through the whole of
them. The few remarks to which I have given place above, will suffice to
prove that the assertion made in the preface was not unwarranted. It is
far from my intention to enter the lists with a man of the literary
merit and reputation of Mr. Irving, but as a narrator of events of which
I was an EYEWITNESS, I felt bound to tell the truth, although that truth
might impugn the historical accuracy of a work which ranks as a classic
in the language. At the same time I entirely exonerate Mr. Irving from
any intention of prejudicing the minds of his readers, as he doubtless
had only in view to support the character of his friend: that sentiment
is worthy of a generous heart, but it should not be gratified, nor would
he wish to gratify it, I am sure, at the expense of the character of


     Perhaps even contrary to the wish of Mr. Franchere, I have left the
     above almost word for word as he wrote it. It is a part of the
     history of the affairs related as well in Mr. Irving's ASTORIA as
     in the present volume, that the reclamations of one of the clerks
     on that famous and unfortunate voyage of the Tonquin, against the
     disparaging description of himself and his colleagues given in the
     former work, should be fairly recorded. At the same time, I can not
     help stating my own impression that a natural susceptibility,
     roused by those slighting remarks from Captain Thorn's
     correspondence, to which Mr. Irving as an historian gives currency,
     has somewhat blinded my excellent friend to the tone of banter, so
     characteristic of the chronicler of the Knickerbockers, in which
     all these particulars are given, more as traits of the character
     of the stern old sea-captain, with his hearty contempt for
     land-lubbers and literary clerks, than as a dependable account of
     the persons on board his ship, some of whom might have been, and as
     we see by the present work, were, in fact, very meritorious
     characters, for whose literary turn, and faithful journalizing
     (which seems to have especially provoked the captain's wrath), now
     at the end of more than forty years, we have so much reason to be
     thankful. Certainly Mr. Irving himself, who has drawn frequently on
     Mr. Franchere's narrative, could not, from his well-known taste in
     such matters, be insensible to the Defoe-like simplicity thereof,
     nor to the picturesque descriptions, worthy of a professional pen,
     with which it is sprinkled.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific" ***

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