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Title: Sketches in Canada, and rambles among the red men
Author: Jameson, Mrs. (Anna), 1794-1860
Language: English
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  Spottiswoodes and Shaw,








Nobody reads prefaces on a Railway journey. The leaves are turned over
for something to arrest attention, or to dissipate weariness, or to
"fleet the time," which even at railway speed moves slowly compared to
the "march of ideas." It is, however, necessary to state in few words
that these pages are a reprint of the most amusing and interesting
chapters of the "Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada,"--first
published in 1838, in three octavo volumes, favourably received at the
time and now out of print. The Authoress in the original preface to the
work represents herself as "thrown into scenes and regions hitherto
undescribed by any traveller (for the northern shores of Lake Huron are
almost new ground), and into relations with the Indian tribes such as
few European women of refined and civilised habits have ever risked, and
none have recorded;" and the adventures and sketches of character and
scenery among the Red-skins, still retain that freshness which belongs
only to what is genuine. All that was of a merely transient or merely
personal nature, or obsolete in politics or criticism, has been omitted.

The rest, the book must say for itself.



  TORONTO IN 1837.

                                                            December 20.

Toronto--such is now the sonorous name of this our sublime capital--was,
thirty years ago, a wilderness, the haunt of the bear and deer, with a
little, ugly, inefficient fort, which, however, could not be more ugly
or inefficient than the present one. Ten years ago Toronto was a
village, with one brick house and four or five hundred inhabitants; five
years ago it became a city, containing about five thousand inhabitants,
and then bore the name of Little York: now it is Toronto, with an
increasing trade, and a population of ten thousand people. So far I
write as _per_ book.

What Toronto may be in summer, I cannot tell; they say it is a pretty
place. At present its appearance to me, a stranger, is most strangely
mean and melancholy. A little ill-built town, on low land, at the bottom
of a frozen bay, with one very ugly church, without tower or steeple;
some government offices, built of staring red brick, in the most
tasteless, vulgar style imaginable; three feet of snow all around; and
the grey, sullen, wintry lake, and the dark gloom of the pine forest
bounding the prospect: such seems Toronto to me now. I did not expect
much; but for this I was not prepared.

I know no better way of coming at the truth than by observing and
recording faithfully the impressions made by objects and characters on
my own mind--or, rather, the impress they _receive_ from my own
mind--shadowed by the clouds which pass over its horizon, taking each
tincture of its varying mood--until they emerge into light, to be
corrected, or at least modified, by observation and comparison. Neither
do I know any better way than this of conveying to the mind of another
the truth, and nothing but the truth, if not the whole truth. So I shall
write on.

There is much in first impressions, and as yet I have not recovered from
the pain and annoyance of my outset here. My friends at New York
expended much eloquence--eloquence wasted in vain!--in endeavouring to
dissuade me from a winter journey to Canada. I listened, and was
grateful for their solicitude, but must own I did not credit the picture
they drew of the difficulties and _désagrémens_ I was destined to meet
by the way. I had chosen, they said, the very worst season for a journey
through the state of New York; the usual facilities for travelling were
now suspended; a few weeks sooner the rivers and canals had been open; a
few weeks later the roads, smoothed up with snow, had been in sleighing
order;--now, the navigation was frozen, and the roads so broken up as to
be nearly impassable. Then there was only a night boat on the Hudson,
"to proceed," as the printed paper set forth, "to Albany, _or as far as
the ice permitted_." All this, and more, were represented to me--and
with so much apparent reason and real feeling, and in words and tones so
difficult to resist! But though I could appreciate the kindness of those
persuasive words, they brought no definite idea to my mind; I could form
no notion of difficulties which by fair words, presence of mind, and
money in my pocket, could not be obviated. I had travelled half over the
continent of Europe, often alone, and had never yet been in
circumstances where these availed not. In my ignorance I could conceive
none; but, with the experience I have gained, I would not lightly
counsel a similar journey to any one, certainly not to a woman.

As we ascended the Hudson in the night, I lost, of course, the view of
that superb scenery which I was assured even winter could not divest of
all its beauty--rather clothed it in a different kind of beauty. At the
very first blush of morning I escaped from the heated cabin, crowded
with listless women and clamorous children, and found my way to the
deck. I was surprised by a spectacle as beautiful as it was new to me.
The Catskill mountains, which we had left behind us in the night, were
still visible, but just melting from the view, robed in a misty purple
light, while our magnificent steamer--the prow armed with a sharp iron
sheath for the purpose--was _crashing_ its way through solid ice four
inches thick, which seemed to close behind us into an adhesive mass, so
that the wake of the vessel was not distinguished a few yards from the
stern: yet in the path thus opened, and only seemingly closed, followed
at some little distance a beautiful schooner and two smaller
steam-vessels. I walked up and down, from the prow to the stern,
refreshed by the keen frosty air, and the excitement caused by various
picturesque effects, on the ice-bound river and the frozen shores, till
we reached Hudson. Beyond this town it was not safe for the boat to
advance, and we were still thirty miles below Albany. After leaving
Hudson (with the exception of the railroad between Albany and Utica), it
was all heavy, weary work; the most painfully fatiguing journey I ever
remember. Such were the roads, that we were once six hours going eleven
miles. What was usually a day's journey from one town, or one good inn,
to another, occupied sometimes a day and a night, or even two days.[1]

After six days and three nights of this travelling, unrelieved by
companionship, or interest of any kind, I began to sink with fatigue.
The first thing that roused me was our arrival at the ferry of the
Niagara river at Queenston, about seven miles below the Falls. It was a
dark night, and while our little boat was tossed in the eddying waters
and guided by a light to the opposite shore, we could distinctly hear
the deep roar of the cataract, filling, and, as it seemed to me, shaking
the atmosphere around us. That mighty cataract, the dream and vision of
my childhood and youth, so near--yet unseen,--making itself thus heard
and felt,--like Job's vision, consciously present, yet unrevealed and
undiscerned! You may believe that I woke up very decidedly from my
lethargy of weariness to listen to that mysterious voice, which made my
blood pause and thrill. At Queenston we slept, and proceeded next
morning to the town of Niagara on the shore of Lake Ontario. Now, as we
had heard, the navigation on the lake had ceased, and we looked for
nothing better than a further journey of one hundred miles round the
head of the lake, and by the most execrable roads, instead of an easy
passage of thirty miles across from shore to shore. But Fortune, seized
with one of those freaks which, when we met them in books, we pronounce
improbable and unnatural, (and she has played me many such, some good,
some bad,) had ordered matters otherwise. A steam-vessel, making a last
trip, had called accidentally at the port, and was just going off; the
paddles were actually in motion as I and my baggage together were
hurried--almost _flung_--on board. No sooner there, than I threw myself
down in the cabin utterly overwhelmed with fatigue, and sank at once
into a profound and dreamless sleep.

How long I slept I knew not: they roused me suddenly to tell me we were
at Toronto, and, not very well able to stand, I hurried on deck. The
wharf was utterly deserted, the arrival of the steam-boat being
accidental and unexpected; and as I stepped out of the boat I sank
ankle-deep into mud and ice. The day was intensely cold and damp; the
sky lowered sulkily, laden with snow, which was just beginning to fall.
Half-blinded by the sleet driven into my face and the tears which filled
my eyes, I walked about a mile through a quarter of the town mean in
appearance, not thickly inhabited, and to me, as yet, an unknown
wilderness; and through dreary, miry ways, never much thronged, and now,
by reason of the impending snow-storm, nearly solitary. I heard no
voices, no quick footsteps of men or children; I met no familiar face,
no look of welcome!--Up to the present hour all objects wear one hue.
Land is not distinguishable from water. I see nothing but snow heaped
up against my windows, not only without but within; I hear no sound but
the tinkling of sleigh-bells and the occasional lowing of a poor
half-starved cow, that, standing up to the knees in a snowdrift,
presents herself at the door of a wretched little shanty opposite, and
supplicates for her small modicum of hay.

       *     *     *     *     *

The choice of this site for the capital of the Upper Province was
decided by the fine harbour, the only one between Burlington Bay and
Cobourg, a distance of about a hundred and fifty miles. General Simcoe,
the first governor after the division of the two provinces, and a man of
great activity and energy of character, entertained the idea of founding
a metropolis. At that time the head quarters of the government were at
Niagara, then called Newark, on the opposite shore; but this was too
near the frontiers to be a safe position. Nor is Toronto much safer:
from its low situation, and the want of any commanding height in the
neighbourhood, it is nearly defenceless. In case of a war with America,
a few boats sent from the opposite coast of New York could easily lay
the fort and town in ashes; and, in fact, during the last war, in 1813,
such was the fate of both. But the same reasons which rendered the place
indefensible to us, rendered it untenable for the enemy, and it was
immediately evacuated. Another objection was, and _is_, the
unhealthiness of its situation,--in a low swamp not yet wholly drained,
and with large portions of uncleared land immediately round it: still
the beauty and safety of the spacious harbour, and its central position
about half-way between Lake Huron and the frontier line of Lower Canada,
have fixed its rank as capital of the province and the seat of the

When the engineer, Bouchette, was sent by General Simcoe to survey the
site (in 1793), it was a mere swamp, a tangled wilderness; the birch,
the hemlock, and the tamarac-trees were growing down to the water's
edge, and even into the lake. I have been told that Toronto, the Indian
appellation of the whole district, signifies _trees growing out of
water_. Colonel Bouchette says, that at this time the only vestige of
humanity for a hundred miles on every side was one solitary wigwam on
the shore, the dwelling of a few Missassagua Indians. Three years
afterwards, when the Duc de Rochefoucauld was here, the infant
metropolis consisted of a fort and twelve miserable log huts, the
inhabitants of which, as the duke tells us, bore no good reputation. The
town was, however, already marked out in streets running parallel with
the shore of the bay for about two miles, and crossed by others at right
angles. It is a pity that while they were about it they did not follow
the example of the Americans in such cases, and make the principal
streets of ample width; some hundred feet, or even furlongs, more or
less, would have made little difference where the wild unowned forest
extended, for all they knew, from the lake to the north pole,--_now_, it
would not be so easy to amend the error. King Street, the principal
street, looks narrow, and will look narrower when the houses are higher,
better, and more regularly built. I perceive that in laying out the
_fashionable_, or west-end of the city, they have avoided the same
mistake. A wide space between the building lots and Lake Ontario has
been reserved very properly as a road or esplanade, but I doubt whether
even this be wide enough. One of the most curious and inexplicable
phenomena connected with these immense inland seas is the gradual rise
of the waters; and even within these few years, as I am informed, great
part of the high bank has been washed away, and a carriage-road at the
foot of it along the shore has been wholly covered. If this process goes
on, and at the same rate, there must be a solid embankment, or quay,
raised as a barrier against the encroaching waters, or the esplanade
itself will in time disappear.

       *     *     *     *     *

                                                             January 14.

It should seem that this wintry season, which appears to me so dismal,
is for the Canadians the season of festivity. Now is the time for
visiting, for sleighing excursions, for all intercourse of business and
friendship, for balls in town, and dances in farm-houses, and courtships
and marriages, and prayer-meetings and assignations of all sorts. In
summer, the heat and the mosquitos render travelling disagreeable at
best; in spring the roads are absolutely impassable; in autumn there is
too much agricultural occupation: but in winter the forests are
pervious; the roads present a smooth surface of dazzling snow; the
settlers in the woods drive into the towns, supply themselves with
stores and clothing, and fresh meat,--the latter a luxury which they can
seldom obtain in the summer. I stood at my window to-day watching the
sleighs as they glided past. They are of all shapes and sizes. A few of
the carriage-sleighs are well appointed and handsome. The market-sleighs
are often two or three boards nailed together in form of a wooden box
upon runners; some straw and a buffalo skin or blanket serve for the
seat; barrels of flour and baskets of eggs fill up the empty space.
Others are like cars, and others, called _cutters_, are mounted on high
runners, like sleigh phaetons; these are sported by the young men and
officers of the garrison, and require no inconsiderable skill in
driving: however, as I am assured, they are overturned in the snow not
above once in a quarter of an hour, and no harm and much mirth ensues:
but the wood sleighs are my delight; a large platform of boards is
raised upon runners, with a few upright poles held together at top by a
rope, the logs of oak, pine, and maple, are then heaped up to the height
of six or seven feet. On the summit lie a couple of deer frozen stiff
their huge antlers projecting in a most picturesque fashion, and on
these, again, a man is seated with a blanket round him, his furred cap
drawn down upon his ears, and his scarlet woollen comforter forming a
fine bit of colour. He guides with a pole his two patient oxen, the
clouds of vapour curling from their nostrils into the keen frosty
air--the whole machine, in short, as wildly picturesque as the grape
waggons in Italy, though to be sure, the associations are somewhat

       *     *     *     *     *

                                                             January 16.

This morning, before I was quite dressed, a singular visit was
announced. I had expressed to my friend Mr. H * * * a wish to see some
of the aborigines of the country: he had the kindness to remember my
request; and Colonel Givins, the principal Indian agent, had accordingly
brought some Indians to visit us.

The party consisted of three--a chief named the White Deer, and two of
his friends. The chief wore a blanket coat and leggings, and a blanket
hood with a peak, from which depended a long black eagle plume; stout
mocazins (shoes of undressed deer-skin) completed his attire: he had
about fifty strings of blue wampum round his neck. The other two were
similarly dressed, with the exception of the wampum and the feathers.
Before I went down I had thrown a chain of wampum round my neck, which
seemed to please them. Chairs being presented, they sat down at once
(though, as Colonel Givins said, they would certainly have preferred the
floor), and answered with a grave and quiet dignity the compliments and
questions addressed to them. Their deportment was taciturn and
self-possessed, and their countenances melancholy; that of the chief was
by far the most intelligent. They informed me that they were Chippewas
from the neighbourhood of Lake Huron, that the hunting season had been
unsuccessful, that their tribe was suffering the extremity of hunger and
cold, and that they had come to beg from their Great Father the Governor
rations of food, and a supply of blankets for their women and children.
They had walked over the snow, in their snow-shoes, from the Lake, one
hundred and eighty miles; and for the last forty-eight hours none of
them had tasted food. A breakfast of cold meat, bread, and beer, was
immediately ordered for them; and though they had certainly never beheld
in their lives the arrangement of an European table, and were besides
half famished, they sat down with unembarrassed tranquillity, and helped
themselves to what they wished with the utmost propriety--only, after
one or two trials, using their own knives and fingers in preference to
the table knife and fork. After they had eaten and drunk sufficiently,
they were conducted to the government-house to receive from the governor
presents of blankets, rifles, and provisions; and each, on parting, held
out his hand to me, and the chief, with a grave earnestness, prayed for
the blessing of the Great Spirit on me and my house. On the whole, the
impression they left, though amusing and exciting from its mere novelty,
was melancholy. The sort of desperate resignation in their swarthy
countenances, their squalid, dingy habiliments, and their forlorn story,
filled me with pity, and, I may add, disappointment; and all my previous
impressions of the independent children of the forest are for the
present disturbed.

These are the first specimens I have seen of that fated race, with which
I hope to become better acquainted before I leave the country.
Notwithstanding all I have heard and read, I have yet but a vague idea
of the Indian character; and the very different aspect under which it
has been represented by various travellers as well as writers of
fiction, adds to the difficulty of forming a correct estimate of the
people, and more particularly of the true position of their women.
Colonel Givins, who has passed thirty year of his life among the north
west tribes, till he has become in habits and language almost identified
with them, is hardly an impartial judge. He was their interpreter on
this occasion; and he says that there is as much difference between the
customs and language of different nations--the Chippewas and Mohawks,
for instance--as there is between any two nations of Europe.

The cold is at this time so intense that the ink freezes while I write,
and my fingers stiffen round the pen. A glass of water by the bed-side,
within a few feet of the hearth (heaped with logs of oak and maple kept
burning all night long), is a solid mass of ice in the morning. God help
the poor emigrants who are yet unprepared against the rigour of the
season!--yet this is nothing to the climate of the Lower Province,
where, as we hear, the thermometer has been thirty degrees below zero.
I lose all heart to write home, or to register a reflection or a
feeling--thought stagnates in my head as the ink in my pen--and this
will never do!--I _must_ arouse myself to occupation; and if I cannot
find it without, I must create it from within. There are yet four months
of winter and leisure to be disposed of. How?--I know not; but they
_must_ be employed, not wholly lost.

[Footnote 1: Through all these districts there are now railroads, and
every facility for comfortable travelling.]

[Footnote 2: Now removed to Kingston, though some of the courts of law
still remain at Toronto.]

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                             January 23.

At half-past eight my escort was at the door in a very pretty commodious
sleigh, in form like a barouche with the head up. I was absolutely
buried in furs; a blanket netted for me by the kindest hands, of the
finest lamb's wool, rich in colour, and as light and elastic as it was
deliciously warm, was folded round my limbs; buffalo and bear skins were
heaped over all, and every breath of the external air excluded by every
possible device. Mr. C. drove his own grey horses; and thus fortified
and accoutred, off we flew, literally "urged by storms along the
slippery way," for the weather was terrific.

I think that but for this journey I never could have imagined the
sublime desolation of a northern winter; and it has impressed me
strongly. In the first place, the whole atmosphere appeared as if
converted into snow, which fell in thick, tiny, starry flakes, till the
buffalo robes and furs about us appeared like swansdown, and the harness
on the horses of the same delicate material. The whole earth was a white
waste. The road, on which the sleigh-track was only just perceptible,
ran for miles in a straight line; on each side rose the dark, melancholy
pine-forest, slumbering drearily in the hazy air. Between us and the
edge of the forest were frequent spaces of cleared or half-cleared land,
spotted over with the black charred stumps and blasted trunks of once
magnificent trees, projecting from the snow-drift. These, which are
perpetually recurring objects in a Canadian landscape, have a most
melancholy appearance. Sometimes wide openings occurred to the left,
bringing us in sight of Lake Ontario, and even in some places down upon
the edge of it: in this part of the lake the enormous body of the water
and its incessant movement prevents it from freezing, and the dark waves
rolled in, heavily plunging on the icy shore with a sullen booming
sound. A few roods from the land, the cold grey waters, and the cold,
grey, snow-encumbered atmosphere, were mingled with each other, and each
seemed either. The only living thing I saw in a space of about twenty
miles was a magnificent bald-headed eagle, which, after sailing a few
turns in advance of us, alighted on the topmost bough of a blasted pine,
and slowly folding his great wide wings, looked down upon us as we
glided beneath him.

The first village we passed through was Springfield, on the river
Credit, a river of some importance in summer, but now converted into
ice, heaped up with snow, and undistinguishable. Twenty miles further,
we stopped at Oakville to refresh ourselves and the horses.

Oakville stands close upon the lake, at the mouth of a little river
called Sixteen-mile Creek; it owes its existence to a gentleman of the
name of Chisholm, and, from its situation and other local circumstances,
bids fair to become a place of importance. In the summer it is a
frequented harbour, and carries on a considerable trade in _lumber_, for
so they characteristically call timber in this country. From its
dock-yards I am told that a fine steam-boat and a dozen schooners have
been already launched.

In summer, the country round is rich and beautiful, with a number of
farms all in a high state of cultivation; but Canada in winter and in
summer must be like two different regions. At present the mouth of the
creek is frozen up; all trade, all ship-building suspended. Oakville
presents the appearance of a straggling hamlet, containing a few frame
and log-houses; one brick-house (the grocery store, or general shop,
which in a new Canadian village is always the best house in the place),
a little Methodist church, painted green and white, but as yet no
resident preacher; and an inn dignified by the name of the "Oakville
House Hotel." Where there is a store, a tavern, and a church,
habitations soon rise around them. Oakville contains at present more
than three hundred inhabitants, who are now subscribing among themselves
for a schoolmaster and a resident clergyman.

I stood conversing in the porch, and looking about me, till I found it
necessary to seek shelter in the house, before my nose was absolutely
taken off by the ice-blast. The little parlour was solitary, and heated
like an oven. Against the wall were stuck a few vile prints, taken out
of old American magazines; there was the Duchess de Berri in her
wedding-dress, and, as a pendant, the Modes de Paris--"Robe de tulle
garnie de fleurs--coiffure nouvelle, inventée par Mons. Plaisir." The
incongruity was but too laughable! I looked round for some amusement or
occupation, and at last spied a book open, and turned down upon its
face. I pounced upon it as a prize; and what do you think it was?
"Dévinez, madame! je vous le donne en trois, je vous le donne en
quatre!" it was--Don Juan! And so, while looking from the window on a
scene which realised all you can imagine of the desolation of savage
life, mixed up with just so much of the common-place vulgarity of
civilised life as sufficed to spoil it, I amused myself reading of the
Lady Adeline Amundeville and her precious coterie, and there anent.

    Society is smoothed to that excess,
    That manners hardly differ more than dress.
    Our ridicules are kept in the background,
    Ridiculous enough, but also dull;
    Professions, too, are no more to be found
    Professional, and there is nought to cull
    Of Folly's fruit; for tho' your fools abound,
    They're barren, and not worth the pains to pull.
    Society is now one polished horde,
  Form'd of two mighty tribes--the _bores_ and _bored_.

A delineation, by the way, which might almost reconcile one to a more
savage locality than that around me.

While I was reading, the mail-coach between Hamilton and Toronto drove
up to the door; and because you shall understand what sort of a thing a
Canadian mail is, and thereupon sympathise in my irrepressible wonder
and amusement, I must sketch it for you. It was a heavy wooden edifice,
about the size and form of an old-fashioned lord mayor's coach, placed
on runners raised about a foot from the ground: the whole was painted of
a bright red, and long icicles hung from the roof. This monstrous
machine disgorged from its portal eight men-creatures, all enveloped in
bear-skins and shaggy dreadnoughts, and pea-jackets, and fur-caps down
upon their noses, looking like a procession of bears on their hind-legs,
tumbling out of a showman's caravan. They proved, however, when
undisguised, to be gentlemen, most of them going up to Toronto to attend
their duties in the House of Assembly. One of these, a personage of
remarkable height and size, and a peculiar cast of features, was
introduced to me as Mr. Kerr, the possessor of large estates in the
neighbourhood, partly acquired, and partly inherited from his
father-in-law Brandt, the famous chief of the Six Nations. Kerr himself
has Indian blood in his veins. His son, young Kerr, a fine boy about ten
years old, is the present acknowledged chief of the Six Nations, in his
mother's right, the hereditary chieftainship being always transmitted
_through_ the female, though passing _over_ her. Mrs. Kerr, the eldest
daughter of Brandt, is a squaw of unmixed Indian blood, and has been
described to me as a very superior creature. She has the good sense to
wear habitually her Indian costume, slightly modified, in which she
looks and moves a princess, graceful and unrestrained, while in a
fashionable European dress the effect would be exactly the reverse.

Much mischief has been done in this neighbourhood by beasts of prey, and
the deer, driven by hunger, and the wolves from their forest haunts,
have been killed, near the settlements, in unusual numbers. One of the
Indians whom I saw at Toronto, on returning by this road, shot with his
new rifle eight deer in one day, and sold them at Hamilton for three
dollars each--no bad day's hunting. The venison in Canada is good and
abundant, but very lean, very unlike English venison; the price is
generally four or six cents (twopence or threepence) a pound.

After taking some refreshment, we set forth again. The next village we
passed was called, oddly enough, Wellington Square; it has been recently
laid out, and contains about twenty wooden houses;--then came Port
Nelson, Mr. Kerr's place. Instead of going round the head of the lake by
Hamilton, we crossed that very remarkable tongue or slip of land which
divides Burlington Bay from Lake Ontario: these were, in fact, two
separate lakes till a channel was cut through the narrow isthmus.
Burlington Bay, containing about forty square miles, is now one sheet of
ice, and on the slip of land, which is near seven miles in length, and
about two hundred yards in width, we found the snow lying so deep, and
in such irregular drifts, that we proceeded with difficulty. At length
we reached Stony Creek, a village celebrated in these parts as the scene
of the bloodiest battle fought between the English and Americans during
the last war. We had intended to sleep here, but the inn was so
uncomfortable and unpromising, that, after a short rest, we determined
on proceeding ten miles further to Beamsville.

It was now dark, and the snow falling thick, it soon became impossible
to distinguish the sleigh-track. Mr. Campbell loosened the reins and
left the horses to their own instinct, assuring me it was the safest way
of proceeding. After this I remember no more distinctly, except that I
ceased to hear the ever-jingling sleigh-bells. I awoke, as if from the
influence of nightmare, to find the sleigh overturned, myself lying in
the bottom of it half-smothered, and my companions nowhere to be
seen;--they were floundering in the snow behind.

Luckily, when we had stretched ourselves and shaken off the snow, we
were found unhurt in life and limb. We had fallen down a bank into the
bed of a rivulet, or a mill-race, I believe, which, being filled up with
snow, was quite as soft, only a little colder, than a down-bed.
Frightened I was, bewildered rather, but "effective" in a moment. It was
impossible for the gentlemen to leave the horses, which were plunging
furiously up to the shoulders in the snow, and had already broken the
sleigh; so I set off to seek assistance, having received proper
directions. Fortunately we were not far from Beamsville. My beacon-light
was to be the chimney of a forge, from which the bright sparks were
streaming up into the dark wintry air, visible from a great distance.
After scrambling through many a snow-drift, up hill and down hill, I at
last reached the forge, where a man was hammering amain at a
ploughshare; such was the din, that I called for some time unheard; at
last, as I advanced into the red light of the fire, the man's eyes fell
upon me, and I shall never forget his look as he stood poising his
hammer, with the most comical expression of bewildered amazement. I
could not get an answer from him; he opened his mouth and repeated _aw!_
staring at me, but without speaking or moving. I turned away in despair,
yet half laughing, and after some more scrambling up and down, I found
myself in the village, and was directed to the inn. Assistance was
immediately sent off to my friends, and in a few minutes the
supper-table was spread, a pile of logs higher than myself blazing away
in the chimney; venison-steaks, and fried fish, coffee, hot cakes,
cheese, and whisky punch (the traveller's fare in Canada), were soon
smoking on the table: our landlady presided, and the evening passed
merrily away.

The old landlady of this inn amused me exceedingly; she had passed all
her life among her equals in station and education, and had no idea of
any distinction between guests and customers; and while caressing and
attending on me, like an old mother or an old nurse, gave me her
history, and that of all her kith and kin. Forty years before, her
husband had emigrated, and built a hovel, and made a little clearing on
the edge of the lake. At that time there was no other habitation within
many miles of them, and they passed several years in almost absolute
solitude. They have now three farms, some hundred acres of land, and
have brought up nine sons and daughters, most of whom are married, and
settled on lands of their own. She gave me a horrid picture of the
prevalence of drunkenness, the vice and the curse of this country.

I can give you no idea of the intense cold of this night. Next morning
we proceeded eighteen miles farther, to St. Catherine's, the situation
of which appeared very pretty even in winter, and must be beautiful in
summer. I am told it is a place of importance, owing to the vicinity of
the Welland Canal, which connects Lake Ontario with Lake Erie: it
contains more than seven hundred inhabitants. The school here is
reckoned the best in the district. We passed this morning several
streams, which in summer flow into the lake, now all frozen up and
undistinguishable, except by the wooden bridges which cross them, and
the mills, now still and useless, erected along their banks. The streams
have the names of Thirty Mile Creek, Forty Mile Creek, Twenty Mile
Creek, and so on; but wherefore I could not discover.

From St. Catherine's we proceeded twelve miles farther, to Niagara.
There I found some old English or rather Irish friends ready to welcome
me with joyous affection; and surely there is not a more blessed sight
than the face of an old friend in a new land!

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                             January 26.

The town of Niagara presents the same torpid appearance which seems to
prevail everywhere at this season; it is situated at the mouth of the
river Niagara, and is a place of much business and resort when the
navigation is open. The lake does not freeze here, owing to the depth of
its majestic waters; neither does the river, from the velocity of its
current; yet both are blocked up by the huge fragments of ice which are
brought down from Lake Erie, and which, uniting and accumulating at the
mouth of the river, form a field of ice extending far into the lake. How
beautiful it looked to-day, broken into vast longitudinal flakes of
alternate white and azure, and sparkling in the sunshine!

The land all round Niagara is particularly fine and fertile: it has been
longer cleared and cultivated than in other parts of the province, and
the country, they say, is most beautiful in summer. The opposite shore,
about a quarter of a mile off, is the State of New York. The Americans
have a fort on their side, and we also have a fort on ours. What the
amount of _their_ garrison may be I know not, but our force consists of
three privates and a corporal, with adequate arms and ammunition, i. e.
rusty firelocks and damaged guns. The fortress itself I mistook for a
dilapidated brewery. This is charming--it _looks_ like peace and
security, at all events.

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                             January 29.

Well! I have seen these Cataracts of Niagara, which have thundered in my
mind's ear ever since I can remember--which have been my "childhood's
thought, my youth's desire," since first my imagination was awakened to
wonder and to wish. I have beheld them, and shall I whisper it to
you?--but, O tell it not among the Philistines!--I wish I had not! I
wish they were still a thing unbeheld--a thing to be imagined, hoped,
and anticipated--something to live for:--the reality has displaced from
my mind an illusion far more magnificent than itself--I have no words
for my utter disappointment: yet I have not the presumption to suppose
that all I have heard and read of Niagara is false or exaggerated--that
every expression of astonishment, enthusiasm, rapture, is affectation or
hyperbole. No! it must be my own fault. Terni, and some of the Swiss
cataracts leaping from their mountains, have affected me a thousand
times more than all the immensity of Niagara. O I could beat myself! and
now there is no help!--the first moment, the first impression is
over--is lost; though I should live a thousand years, long as Niagara
itself shall roll, I can never see it again for the _first_ time.
Something is gone that cannot be restored.

But, to take things in order: we set off for the Falls yesterday
morning, with the intention of spending the day there, sleeping, and
returning the next day to Niagara. The distance is fourteen miles, by a
road winding along the banks of the Niagara river, and over the
Queenston heights;--and beautiful must this land be in summer, since
even now it is beautiful. The flower garden, the trim shrubbery, the
lawn, the meadow with its hedgerows, when frozen up and wrapt in snow,
always give me the idea of something not only desolate but dead: Nature
is the ghost of herself, and trails a spectral pall; I always feel a
kind of pity--a touch of melancholy--when at this season I have wandered
among withered shrubs and buried flower-beds; but here, in the
wilderness, where Nature is wholly independent of Art, she does not die,
nor yet mourn; she lies down to rest on the bosom of Winter, and the
aged one folds her in his robe of ermine and jewels, and rocks her with
his hurricanes, and hushes her to sleep. How still it was! how calm, how
vast the glittering white waste and the dark purple forests! The sun
shone out, and the sky was without a cloud; yet we saw few people, and
for many miles the hissing of our sleigh, as we flew along upon our
dazzling path, and the tinkling of the sleigh-bells, were the only
sounds we heard. When we were within four or five miles of the Falls, I
stopped the sleigh from time to time to listen to the roar of the
cataracts; but the state of the atmosphere was not favourable for the
transmission of sound, and the silence was unbroken.

Such was the deep, monotonous tranquillity which prevailed on every
side--so exquisitely pure and vestal-like the robe in which all Nature
lay slumbering around us, I could scarce believe that this whole
frontier district is not only remarkable for the prevalence of vice--but
of dark and desperate crime.

Mr. A., who is a magistrate, pointed out to me a lonely house by the
way-side, where, on a dark stormy night in the preceding winter, he had
surprised and arrested a gang of forgers and coiners; it was a fearful
description. For some time my impatience had been thus
beguiled--impatience and suspense much like those of a child at a
theatre before the curtain rises. My imagination had been so impressed
by the vast height of the Falls, that I was constantly looking in an
upward direction, when, as we came to the brow of a hill, my companion
suddenly checked the horses, and exclaimed, "The Falls!"

I was not, for an instant, aware of their presence; we were yet at a
distance, looking _down_ upon them; and I saw at one glance a flat
extensive plain; the sun having withdrawn its beams for the moment,
there was neither light, nor shade, nor colour. In the midst were seen
the two great cataracts, but merely as a feature in the wide landscape.
The sound was by no means overpowering, and the clouds of spray, which
Fanny Kemble called so beautifully the "everlasting incense of the
waters," now condensed ere they rose by the excessive cold, fell round
the base of the cataracts in fleecy folds, just concealing that furious
embrace of the waters above and the waters below. All the associations
which in imagination I had gathered round the scene, its appalling
terrors, its soul-subduing beauty, its power and height, and velocity
and immensity, were diminished in effect, or wholly lost.

       *     *     *     *     *

I was quite silent--my very soul sank within me. On seeing my
disappointment (written, I suppose, most legibly in my countenance) my
companion began to comfort me, by telling me of all those who had been
disappointed on the first view of Niagara, and had confessed it. I _did_
confess; but I was not to be comforted. We held on our way to the
Clifton hotel, at the foot of the hill; most desolate it looked with its
summer verandahs and open balconies cumbered up with snow, and hung
round with icicles--its forlorn, empty rooms, broken windows, and dusty
dinner tables. The poor people who kept the house in winter had gathered
themselves for warmth and comfort into a little kitchen, and, when we
made our appearance, stared at us with a blank amazement, which showed
what a rare thing was the sight of a visitor at this season.

While the horses were cared for, I went up into the highest balcony to
command a better view of the cataracts; a little Yankee boy, with a
shrewd, sharp face, and twinkling black eyes, acting as my gentleman
usher. As I stood gazing on the scene which seemed to enlarge upon my
vision, the little fellow stuck his hands into his pockets, and, looking
up in my face, said--

"You be from the old country, I reckon?"


"Out over there, beyond the sea?"


"And did you come all that way across the sea for these here falls?"


"My!!" Then after a long pause, and eyeing me with a most comical
expression of impudence and fun, he added, "Now, do _you_ know what them
'ere birds are, out yonder?" pointing to a number of gulls which were
hovering and sporting amid the spray, rising and sinking and wheeling
around, appearing to delight in playing on the verge of this "hell of
waters," and almost dipping their wings into the foam. My eyes were, in
truth, fixed on these fair, fearless creatures, and they had suggested
already twenty fanciful similitudes, when I was roused by his question.

"Those birds?" said I. "Why, _what_ are they?"

"Why, them's EAGLES!"

"Eagles?" it was impossible to help laughing.

"Yes," said the urchin sturdily; "and I guess you have none of them in
the old country?"

"Not many eagles, my boy; but plenty of _gulls_!" and I gave him a
"pretty considerable" pinch by the ear.

"Ay!" said he, laughing; "well now you be dreadful smart--smarter than
many folks that come here!"

We now prepared to walk to the Crescent fall, and I bound some crampons
to my feet, like those they use among the Alps, without which I could
not for a moment have kept my footing on the frozen surface of the snow.
As we approached the Table Rock, the whole scene assumed a wild and
wonderful magnificence; down came the dark-green waters, hurrying with
them over the edge of the precipice enormous blocks of ice brought down
from Lake Erie. On each side of the Falls, from the ledges and
overhanging cliffs, were suspended huge icicles, some twenty, some
thirty feet in length, thicker than the body of a man, and in colour of
a paly green, like the glaciers of the Alps; and all the crags below,
which projected from the boiling eddying waters, were encrusted, and in
a manner built round with ice, which had formed into immense crystals,
like basaltic columns, such as I have seen in the pictures of Staffa and
the Giant's Causeway; and every tree, and leaf, and branch, fringing the
rocks and ravines, was wrought in ice. On them, and on the wooden
buildings erected near the Table Rock, the spray from the cataract had
accumulated and formed into the most beautiful crystals and tracery
work; they looked like houses of glass, welted and moulded into regular
and ornamental shapes, and hung round with a rich fringe of icy points.
Wherever we stood we were on unsafe ground, for the snow, when heaped up
as now to the height of three or four feet, frequently slipped in masses
from the bare rock, and on its surface the spray, for ever falling, was
converted into a sheet of ice, smooth, compact, and glassy, on which I
could not have stood a moment without my _crampons_. It was very
fearful, and yet I could not tear myself away, but remained on the Table
Rock, even on the very edge of it, till a kind of dreamy fascination
came over me; the continuous thunder, and might and movement of the
lapsing waters, held all my vital spirits bound up as by a spell. Then
as at last I turned away, the descending sun broke out, and an Iris
appeared below the American Fall, one extremity resting on a snow mound;
and motionless there it hung in the midst of restless terrors, its
beautiful but rather pale hues contrasting with the death-like
colourless objects around; it reminded me of the faint ethereal smile of
a dying martyr.

It was near midnight when we mounted our sleigh to return to the town of
Niagara, and, as I remember, I did not utter a word during the whole
fourteen miles. The air was still, though keen, the snow lay around, the
whole earth seemed to slumber in a ghastly, calm repose; but the heavens
were wide awake. There the Aurora Borealis was holding her revels, and
dancing and flashing, and varying through all shapes and all hues--pale
amber, rose tint, blood red--and the stars shone out with a fitful,
restless brilliance; and every now and then a meteor would shoot
athwart the skies, or fall to earth, and all around me was wild, and
strange, and exciting--more like a fever dream than a reality.

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                    Toronto, February 7.

Mr. B. gave me a seat in his sleigh, and after a rapid and very pleasant
journey, during which I gained a good deal of information, we reached
Toronto yesterday morning.

The road was the same as before, with one deviation however--it was
found expedient to cross Burlington Bay on the ice, about seven miles
over, the lake beneath being twenty, and five-and-twenty fathoms in
depth. It was ten o'clock at night, and the only light was that
reflected from the snow. The beaten track, from which it is not safe to
deviate, was very narrow, and a man, in the worst, if not the last stage
of intoxication, noisy and brutally reckless, was driving before us in a
sleigh. All this, with the novelty of the situation, the tremendous
cracking of the ice at every instant, gave me a sense of apprehension
just sufficient to be exciting, rather than very unpleasant, though I
will confess to a feeling of relief when we were once more on the solid

It is a remarkable fact, with which you are probably acquainted, that
when one growth of timber is cleared from the land, another of quite a
different species springs up spontaneously in its place. Thus, the oak
or the beech succeeds to the pine, and the pine to the oak or maple.
This is not accounted for, at least I have found no one yet who can give
me a reason for it. We passed by a forest lately consumed by fire, and I
asked why, in clearing the woods, they did not leave groups of the
finest trees, or even single trees, here and there, to embellish the
country? But it seems that this is impossible--for the trees thus left
standing, when deprived of the shelter and society to which they have
been accustomed, uniformly perish--which, for mine own poor part, I
thought very natural.

A Canadian settler _hates_ a tree, regards it as his natural enemy, as
something to be destroyed, eradicated, annihilated by all and any means.
The idea of useful or ornamental is seldom associated here even with
the most magnificent timber trees, such as among the Druids had been
consecrated, and among the Greeks would have sheltered oracles and
votive temples. The beautiful faith which assigned to every tree of the
forest its guardian nymph, to every leafy grove its tutelary divinity,
would find no votaries here. Alas! for the Dryads and Hamadryads of

There are two principal methods of killing trees in this country,
besides the quick, unfailing destruction of the axe; the first by
setting fire to them, which sometimes leaves the root uninjured to rot
gradually and unseen, or be grubbed up at leisure, or, more generally,
there remains a visible fragment of a charred and blackened stump,
deformed and painful to look upon: the other method is slower, but even
more effectual; a deep gash is cut through the bark into the stem, quite
round the bole of the tree. This prevents the circulation of the vital
juices, and by degrees the tree droops and dies. This is technically
called _ringing_ timber. Is not this like the two ways in which a
woman's heart may be killed in this world of ours--by passion and by
sorrow? But better far the swift fiery death than this "ringing," as
they call it!

       *     *     *     *     *

                                                            February 21.

The monotony of this my most monotonous existence was fearfully broken
last night. I had gone early to my room, and had just rung for my maid,
when I was aware of a strange light flashing through the atmosphere,--a
fire was raging in the lower parts of the city. I looked out; there was
the full moon, brighter than ever she shows her fair face in our dear
cloudy England, looking down upon the snowy landscape, and the icy bay
glittered like a sheet of silver; while on the other side of the heavens
all was terror and tumult--clouds of smoke mingled with spires of flame
rose into the sky. Far off the garrison was beating to arms--the bells
tolling; yet all around there was not a living being to be seen, and the
snow-waste was still as death.

Fires are not uncommon in Toronto, where the houses are mostly wood;
they have generally an alarum once or twice a week, and six or eight
houses burned in the course of the winter; but it was evident this was
of more fearful extent than usual. Finding, on inquiry, that all the
household had gone off to the scene of action, my own maid excepted, I
prepared to follow, for it was impossible to remain here idly gazing on
the flames, and listening to the distant shouts in ignorance and
suspense. The fire was in the principal street (King Street), and five
houses were burning together. I made my way through the snow-heaped,
deserted streets, and into a kind of court or garden at the back of the
blazing houses. There was a vast and motley pile of household stuff in
the midst, and a poor woman keeping guard over it, nearly up to her
knees in the snow. I stood on the top of a bedstead, leaning on her
shoulder, and thus we remained till the whole row of buildings had
fallen in. The Irishmen (God bless my countrymen! for in all good--all
mischief--all frolic--all danger--they are sure to be the first) risked
their lives most bravely; their dark figures moving to and fro amid the
blazing rafters, their fine attitudes, and the recklessness with which
they flung themselves into the most horrible situations, became at last
too fearfully exciting. I was myself so near, and the flames were so
tremendous, that one side of my face was scorched and blistered.

All this time the poor woman on whose shoulder I was leaning stood
silent and motionless, gazing with apparent tranquillity on her burning
house. I remember saying to her with a shudder--"But this is dreadful!
to stand by and look on while one's home and property are destroyed!"
And she replied quietly, "Yes, ma'am; but I dare say some good will come
of it. All is for the best, if one knew it; and now Jemmy's safe, I
don't care for the rest." Now Jemmy was not her son, as I found, but a
poor little orphan, of whom she took charge.

There had been at first a scarcity of water, but a hole being hewed
through the ice on the lake, the supply was soon quick and plentiful.
All would have been well over, if the sudden fall of a stack of chimneys
had not caused some horrible injuries. One poor boy was killed, and some
others maimed--poor Mr. B. among the number. After this I returned home
rather heart-sick; and nigh to the house a sleigh glanced by at full
gallop, on which I could just perceive, in the moonlight, the extended
form of a man with his hands clenched over his head--as in agony, or

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                                March 1.

In the different branches of art, each artist thinks his own the
highest, and is filled with the idea of all its value and all its
capabilities which he understands best and has most largely studied and
developed. "But," says Dr. Chalmers, "we must take the testimony of each
man to the worth of that which he does know, and reject the testimony of
each to the comparative worthlessness of that which he does not know."
For it is not, generally speaking, that he overrates his own particular
walk of art from over enthusiasm, (no art, when considered separately,
as a means of human delight and improvement, _can_ be over-rated,) but
such a _one-sided_ artist, whose mind and powers have flowed in only one
direction, underrates from ignorance the walks of others which diverge
from his own.

Of all artists, musicians are most exclusive in devotion to their own
art, and in the want of sympathy, if not absolute contempt, for other
arts. A painter has more sympathies with a musician, than a musician
with a painter. Vernet used to bring his easel into Pergolesi's room, to
paint beside his harpsichord, and used to say that he owed some of his
finest skies to the inspired harmonies of his friend. Pergolesi never
felt, perhaps, any harmonies but those of his own delicious art.

"Aspasia, he who loves not music is a beast of one species, and he who
overloves it is a beast of another, whose brain is smaller than a
nightingale's, and his heart than that of a lizard!" I refer you for the
rest to a striking passage in Landor's "Pericles and Aspasia,"
containing a most severe philippic, not only against the professors, but
the _profession_, of music, and which concludes very aptly, "Panenus
said this: let us never believe a word of it!" It is too true that some
excellent musicians have been ignorant, and sensual, and dissipated; but
there are sufficient exceptions to the sweeping censure of Panenus to
show that "imprudence, intemperance, and gluttony" do not always, or
necessarily, "open their channels into the sacred stream of music."
Musicians are not selfish, careless, sensual, ignorant, because they are
musicians, but because, from a defective education, they are nothing
else. The German musicians are generally more moral and more
intellectual men than English or Italian musicians, and hence their
music has taken a higher flight, is more intellectual than the music of
other countries. Music as an art has not degraded them, but they have
elevated music.

The most accomplished and intellectual musician I ever met with is Felix
Mendelssohn. I do not recollect if it were himself or some one else who
told me of a letter which Carl von Weber had addressed to him, warning
him that he never could attain the highest honours in his profession
without cultivating the virtues and the decencies of life. "A great
artist," said Weber, "ought to be a good man."

While I am "i' the vein," I must give you a few more musical
reminiscences before my fingers are quite frozen.

I had once some conversation with Thalberg and Felix Mendelssohn, on the
unmeaning names which musicians often give to their works, as "Concerto
in F," "Concerto in B flat," "First Symphony," "Second Symphony," &c.
Mendelssohn said, that though in almost every case the composer might
have a leading idea, it would be often difficult, or even impossible, to
give any title sufficiently comprehensive to convey the same idea or
feeling to the mind of the hearer.

But music, except to musicians, can only give ideas, or rather raise
images, by association; it can give the pleasure which the just
accordance of musical sounds must give to sensitive ears, but the
associated ideas or images, if any, must be quite accidental. Haydn, we
are told, when he sat down to compose, used first to invent a story in
his own fancy--a regular succession of imaginary incidents and
feelings--to which he framed or suited the successive movements (motivi)
of his concerto. Would it not have been an advantage if Haydn could have
given to his composition such a title as would have pitched the
imagination of the listener at once upon the same key? Mendelssohn
himself has done this in the pieces which he has entitled "Overture to
Melusina," "Overture to the Hebrides," "Meeres Stille und Glückliche
Fahrt," "The Brook," and others,--which is better surely than Sonata No.
1, Sonata No. 2. Take the Melusina, for example; is there not in the
sentiment of the music all the sentiment of the beautiful old fairy
tale?--first, in the flowing, intermingling harmony, we have the soft
elemental delicacy of the water nymph; then, the gushing of fountains,
the undulating waves; then the martial prowess of the knightly lover,
and the splendour of chivalry prevailing over the softer and more
ethereal nature; and then, at last, the dissolution of the charm; the
ebbing, fainting, and failing away into silence of the beautiful water
spirit. You will say it might answer just as well for Ondine; but this
signifies little, provided we have our fancy pitched to certain poetical
associations pre-existing in the composer's mind. Thus not only poems,
but pictures and statues, might be set to music. I suggested to Thalberg
as a subject the Aurora of Guido. It should begin with a slow, subdued,
and solemn movement, to express the slumbrous softness of that dewy hour
which precedes the coming of the day, and which in the picture broods
over the distant landscape, still wrapt in darkness and sleep; then the
stealing upwards of the gradual dawn; the brightening, the quickening of
all life; the awakening of the birds, the burst of the sun-light, the
rushing of the steeds of Hyperion through the sky, the aerial dance of
the Hours, and the whole concluding with a magnificent choral song of
triumph and rejoicing sent up from universal nature.

And then in the same spirit--no, in his own grander spirit--I would have
Mendelssohn improviser the Laocoon. There would be the pomp and
procession of the sacrifice on the seashore; the flowing in of the
waves; the two serpents which come gliding on their foamy crests,
wreathing, and rearing, and undulating; the horror, the lamentation, the
clash of confusion, the death struggle, and, after a deep pause, the
wail of lamentation, the funereal march;--the whole closing with a hymn
to Apollo. Can you not just imagine such a piece of music, and composed
by Mendelssohn? and can you not fancy the possibility of setting to
music in the same manner Raffaelle's Cupid and Psyche, or his Galatea,
or the group of the Niobe? Niobe would be a magnificent subject either
for a concerto, or for a kind of mythological oratorio.

       *     *     *     *     *

                                                                March 2.

Turning over Boswell to-day, I came upon this passage: Johnson says, "I
do not commend a society where there is an agreement that what would not
otherwise be fair shall be fair; but I maintain that an individual of
any society who practises what is allowed is not dishonest."

What say you to this reasoning of our great moralist? does it not reduce
the whole moral law to something merely conventional?

In another place, Dr. Johnson asks, "What proportion does climate bear
to the complex system of human life." I shiver while I answer, "A good
deal, my dear Doctor, to some individuals, and yet more to whole races
of men."

He says afterwards, "I deal more in _notions_ than in facts." And so do
I, it seems.

He talks of "men being _held down_ in conversation by the presence of
women"--_held up_ rather, where moral feeling is concerned; and if held
down where intellect and social interests are concerned, then so much
the worse for such a state of society.

Johnson knew absolutely nothing about women. Witness that one assertion,
among others more insulting, that it is matter of indifference to a
woman whether her husband be faithful or not. He says, in another place,
"If we men require more perfection from women than from ourselves, it
is doing them honour."

Indeed! If, in exacting from us more perfection, you do not allow us the
higher and nobler nature, you do us not honour but gross injustice; and
if you do allow us the higher nature, and yet regard us as subject and
inferior, then the injustice is the greater. There, Doctor, is a dilemma
for you.

       *     *     *     *     *

                                                                March 8.

This relentless winter seems to stiffen and contract every nerve, and
the frost is of that fierceness and intensity, that it penetrates even
to the marrow of one's bones. One of the workmen told me yesterday, that
on taking hold of an iron bar it had taken the skin off his hand, as if
he had grasped it red hot: it is a favourite trick with the children to
persuade each other to touch with the tongue a piece of metal which has
been exposed to the open air; adhesion takes place immediately: even the
metal knobs on the doors of the room I carefully avoid touching--the
contact is worse than unpleasant.

Let but the spring come again, and I will take to myself wings and fly
off to the west!--But will spring _ever_ come? When I look out upon the
bleak, shrouded, changeless scene, there is something so awfully silent,
fixed, and immutable in its aspect, that it is enough to disturb one's
faith in the everlasting revolutions of the seasons. Green leaves and
flowers, and streams that murmur as they flow, soft summer airs, to
which we open the panting bosom--panting with too much life--shades
grateful for their coolness,--can such things be, or do they exist only
in poetry and Paradise?

       *     *     *     *     *


"When I look back," said Goethe, "on my early and middle life, and now
in my old age reflect how few of those remain who were young with me,
life seems to me like a summer residence in a watering-place. When we
first arrive, we form friendships with those who have already spent some
time there, and must be gone the next week. The loss is painful, but we
connect ourselves with the second generation of visitors, with whom we
spend some time and become dearly intimate; but these also depart, and
we are left alone with a third set, who arrive just as we are preparing
for our departure, in whom we feel little or no interest."

Goethe thought that a knowledge of the universe must be _innate_ with
some poets. (It seems to have been so with Shakspeare.) He says he wrote
"Götz von Berlichingen" when he was a young inexperienced man of
two-and-twenty. "Ten years later," he adds, "I stood astonished at the
truth of my own delineation; I had never beheld or experienced the like,
therefore the knowledge of these multifarious aspects of human nature I
must have possessed through a kind of anticipation."

Yes; the "kind of anticipation" through which Joanna Baillie conceived
and wrote her noble tragedies. Where did she, whose life was pure and
"retired as noontide dew," find the dark, stern, terrible elements, out
of which she framed the delineations of character and passion in De
Montfort, Ethwald, Basil, Constantine?--where but in her own prophetic
heart and genius?--in that intuitive, almost unconscious revelation of
the universal nature, which makes the poet, and not experience or
knowledge. Joanna Baillie, whose most tender and refined, and womanly
and christian spirit never, I believe, admitted an ungentle thought of
any living being, created De Montfort, and gave us the physiology of
Hatred; and might well, like Goethe, stand astonished at the truth of
her own delineation.

       *     *     *     *     *


Rehbein once observed to Goethe "that the women who had distinguished
themselves in literature, poetry especially, were almost universally
women who had been disappointed in their best affections, and sought in
this direction of the intellect a sort of compensation. When women are
married, and have children to take care of, they do not often think of
writing poetry."

This is not very politely or delicately expressed; but we must not
therefore shrink from it, for it involves some important considerations.
It is most certain that among the women who have been distinguished in
literature, three-fourths have been either by nature, or fate, or the
law of society, placed in a painful or a false position; it is also most
certain that in these days when society is becoming every day more
artificial and more complex, and marriage, as the gentlemen assure us,
more and more expensive, hazardous, and inexpedient, women _must_ find
means to fill up the void of existence. Men, our natural protectors, our
lawgivers, our masters, throw us upon our own resources; the qualities
which they pretend to admire in us,--the overflowing, the clinging
affections of a warm heart--the household devotion,--the submissive wish
to please, that feels "every vanity in fondness lost,"--the tender
shrinking sensitiveness which Adam thought so charming in his Eve,--to
cultivate these, to make them, by artificial means, the staple of the
womanly character, is it not to cultivate a taste for sunshine and
roses, in those we send to pass their lives in the arctic zone? We have
gone away from nature, and we must--if we can--substitute another
nature. Art, literature, and science remain to us. Religion, which
formerly opened the doors of nunneries and convents to forlorn women,
now mingling her beautiful and soothing influence with resources which
the prejudices of the world have yet left open to us, teaches us another
lesson, that only in utility, such as is left to us,--only in the
assiduous employment of such faculties as we are permitted to exercise,
can we find health and peace, and compensation for the wasted or
repressed impulses and energies more proper to our sex--more
natural--perhaps more pleasing to God; but trusting in His mercy, and
using the means He has given, we must do the best we can for ourselves
and for our sisterhood. The cruel prejudices which would have shut us
out from nobler consolation and occupations have ceased in great part,
and will soon be remembered only as the rude, coarse barbarism of a
by-gone age. Let us then have no more caricatures of methodistical,
card-playing, and acrimonious old maids. Let us hear no more of scandal,
parrots, cats, and lap-dogs--or worse!--these never-failing subjects of
derision with the vulgar and the frivolous, but the source of a thousand
compassionate and melancholy feelings in those who can reflect! In the
name of humanity and womanhood, let us have no more of them! Coleridge,
who has said and written the most beautiful, the most tender, the most
reverential things of women--who understands better than any man, any
poet, what I will call the metaphysics of love--Coleridge has asserted
that the perfection of a woman's character is to be _characterless_.
"Every man," said he, "would like to have an Ophelia or a Desdemona for
his wife." No doubt; the sentiment is truly a masculine one: and what
was _their_ fate? What would now be the fate of such unresisting and
confiding angels? Is this the age of Arcadia? Do we live among Paladins
and Sir Charles Grandisons, and are our weakness, and our innocence, and
our ignorance, safe-guards--or snares? Do we indeed find our account in

  "Fine by defect, and beautifully weak?"

No; women need in these times _character_ beyond everything else; the
qualities which will enable us to endure and to resist evil; the
self-governed, the cultivated, active mind, to protect and to maintain
ourselves. How many wretched women marry for a maintenance! How many
wretched women sell themselves to dishonour for bread!--and there is
small difference, if any, in the infamy and the misery! How many
unmarried women live in heart-wearing dependence;--if poor, in solitary
penury, loveless, joyless, unendeared;--if rich, in aimless, pitiful
trifling! How many, strange to say, marry for the independence they dare
not otherwise claim! But the more paths opened to us, the less fear that
we should go astray.

Surely, it is dangerous, it is wicked, in these days, to follow the old
saw, to bring up women to be "happy wives and mothers;" that is to say,
to let all their accomplishments, their sentiments, their views of life,
take one direction, as if for women there existed only one destiny--one
hope, one blessing, one object, one passion in existence. Some people
say it ought to be so, but we know that it is _not_ so; we know that
hundreds, that thousands of women are not happy wives and mothers--are
never either wives or mothers at all. The cultivation of the moral
strength and the active energies of a woman's mind, together with the
intellectual faculties and tastes, will not make a woman a less good,
less happy wife and mother, and will enable her to find content and
independence when denied love and happiness.

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                               March 15.

This last paragraph, which I wrote last evening, sent me to bed with my
head full of all manner of thoughts, and memories, and fancies.

Whence and what are we, "that things whose sense we see not, frey us
with things that be not?" If I had the heart of that wondrous bird in
the Persian tales, which being pressed upon a human heart, obliged that
heart to utter truth through the lips, sleeping or waking, then I think
I would inquire how far in each bosom exists the belief in the
supernatural? In many minds which I know, and otherwise strong minds, it
certainly exists a hidden source of torment; in others, not stronger, it
exists a source of absolute pleasure and excitement. I have known people
most wittily ridicule, or gravely discountenance, a belief in spectral
appearances, and all the time I could see in their faces that once in
their lives at least they had been frightened at their own shadow. The
conventional cowardice, the fear of ridicule, even the self-respect
which prevents intelligent persons from revealing the exact truth of
what passes through their own minds on this point, deprives us of a
means to trace to its sources and develop an interesting branch of
Psychology. Between vulgar credulity and exaggeration on the one hand,
and the absolute scepticism and materialism of some would-be
philosophers on the other, lies a vast space of debatable ground, a sort
of twilight region or _limbo_, through which I do not see my way

How far are our perceptions confined to our outward senses? Can any one
tell?--for that our perceptions are not wholly confined to impressions
taken in by the outward senses, seems the only one thing proved; and
are such sensible impressions the only real ones? When any one asks me
gaily the so common and common-place question--common even in these our
rational times--"Do you now really believe in ghosts?" I generally
answer as gaily--"I really don't know!" In the common, vulgar meaning of
the words, I certainly do _not_; but in the reality of many things
termed imaginary I certainly do.

       *     *     *     *     *

The following beautiful and original interpretation of Goethe's ballad
of the "Erl-King" is not in Ekermann's book (the "Gespräche mit Goethe,"
which I am now studying), but I give it to you in the words in which it
was given to me.

"Goethe's 'Erl-König' is a moral allegory of deep meaning, though I am
not sure he meant it as such, or intended all that it signifies. There
are beings in the world who see, who feel, with a finer sense than that
granted to other mortals. They see the spiritual, the imaginative
sorrow, or danger, or terror which threatens them; and those who see not
with the same eyes, talk reason and philosophy to them. The poor
frightened child cries out for aid, for mercy; and Papa Wisdom--worldly

  "'Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstrief!'


  "'Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau!'

"It is only the vapour-wreath, or the grey willows waving, and tells him
to be quiet! At last the poor child of feeling is found dead in the arms
of Wisdom, from causes which no one else perceived--or believed! Is it
not often so?"

       *     *     *     *     *

On the subject of religion I find this beautiful comparison, but am not
sure whether it be Ekermann's or Goethe's. "A connoisseur standing
before the picture of a great master will regard it as a whole. He knows
how to combine instantly the scattered parts into the general effect;
the universal, as well as the individual, is to him animated. He has no
preference for certain portions: he does not ask why this or that face
is beautiful or otherwise; why _this_ part is light, _that_ dark; only
he requires that all shall be in the right place, and according to the
just rules of art; but place an ignorant person before such a picture,
and you will see that the great design of the whole will either be
overlooked by him, or confuse him utterly. Some small portion will
attract him, another will offend him, and in the end he will dwell upon
some trifling object which is familiar to him, and praise this helmet,
or that feather, as being well executed.

"We men, before the great picture of the destinies of the universe, play
the part of such dunces, such novices in art. Here we are attracted by a
bright spot, a graceful configuration; _there_ we are repelled by a deep
shadow, a painful object; the immense WHOLE bewilders and perplexes us;
we seek in vain to penetrate the leading idea of that great Being, who
designed the whole upon a plan which our limited human intellect cannot

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                               March 29.

To those who see only with their eyes, the distant is always indistinct
and little, becoming less and less as it recedes, till utterly lost; but
to the imagination, which thus reverses the perspective of the senses,
the far off is great and imposing, the magnitude increasing with the

       *     *     *     *     *

I amused myself this morning with that most charming book "The
Doctor;"--it is not the second nor the third time of reading. How
delicious it is wherever it opens!--how brimful of erudition and wit,
and how rich in thought, and sentiment, and humour! but containing
assumptions, and opinions, and prognostications, in which I would not
believe;--no, not for the world!

       *     *     *     *     *

How true what Southey says! (the Doctor I mean--I beg his pardon)--"We
make the greater part of the evil circumstances in which we are placed,
and then we fit ourselves for those circumstances by a process of
degradation, the effect of which most people see in the classes below
them, though they may not be conscious that it is operating in a
different manner, but with equal force, upon themselves."

The effect of those pre-ordained evils--if they are such--which we
inherit with our mortal state, inevitable death--the separation from
those we love--old age with its wants, its feebleness, its
helplessness--those sufferings which are in the course of nature, are
quite sufficient in the infliction, or in the fear of them, to keep the
spirit chastened, and the reflecting mind humble before God. But what I
_do_ deprecate, is to hear people preaching resignation to social,
self-created evils; fitting, or trying to fit, their own natures by "a
process of degradation" to circumstances which they ought to resist, and
which they do _inwardly_ resist, keeping up a constant, wearing,
impotent strife between the life that is _within_ and the life that is
_without_. How constantly do I read this in the countenances of those I
meet in the world!--They do not know themselves why there should be this
perpetual uneasiness, this jarring and discord within; but it is the
vain struggle of the soul, which God created in his own image, to fit
its strong, immortal nature for the society which men have framed after
their own devices. A _vain_ struggle it is! succeeding only in
appearance, never in reality,--so we walk about the world the masks of
ourselves, pitying each other. When we meet truth we are as much
astonished as I used to be at the carnival, when, in the midst of a
crowd of fantastic, lifeless, painted faces, I met with some one who had
plucked away his mask and stuck it in his hat, and looked out upon me
with the real human smile.

       *     *     *     *     *

The Aurora Borealis is of almost nightly occurrence, but this evening it
has been more than usually resplendent; radiating up from the north,
and spreading to the east and west in form like a fan, the lower point
of a pale white, then yellow, amber, orange, successively, and the
extremities of a glowing crimson, intense, yet most delicate, like the
heart of an unblown rose. It shifted its form and hue at every moment,
flashing and waving like a banner in the breeze; and through this
portentous veil, transparent as light itself, the stars shone out with a
calm and steady brightness; and I thought, as I looked upon them, of a
character we both know, where, like those fair stars, the intellectual
powers shine serenely bright through a veil of passions, fancies, and
caprices. It is most awfully beautiful! I have been standing at my
window watching its evolutions, till it is no longer night, but morning.

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                               April 15.

The ice in the Bay of Toronto has been, during the winter months, from
four to five feet in thickness: within the last few days it has been
cracking in every direction with strange noises, and last night, during
a tremendous gale from the east, it was rent, and loosened, and driven
at once out of the bay. "It moveth altogether, if it move at all." The
last time I drove across the bay, the ice beneath me appeared as fixed
and firm as the foundations of the earth, and within twelve hours it has
disappeared, and to-day the first steam-boat of the season entered our
harbour. They called me to the window to see it, as, with flags and
streamers flying, and amid the cheers of the people, it swept
majestically into the bay. I sympathised with the general rejoicing, for
I can fully understand all the animation and bustle which the opening of
the navigation will bring to our torpid capital.

       *     *     *     *     *

                                                                 May 19.

This beautiful Lake Ontario!--my lake--for I begin to be in love with
it, and look on it as mine!--it changed its hues every moment, the
shades of purple and green fleeting over it, now dark, now lustrous,
now pale--like a dolphin dying; or, to use a more exact though less
poetical comparison, dappled, and varying like the back of a mackerel,
with every now and then a streak of silver light dividing the shades of
green: magnificent, tumultuous clouds came rolling round the horizon;
and the little graceful schooners, falling into every beautiful
attitude, and catching every variety of light and shade, came curtseying
into the bay: and flights of wild geese, and great black loons, were
skimming, diving, sporting over the bosom of the lake; and beautiful
little unknown birds, in gorgeous plumage of crimson and black, were
fluttering about the garden: all life, and light, and beauty were
abroad--the resurrection of Nature! How beautiful it was! how dearly
welcome to my senses--to my heart--this spring which comes at last--so
long wished for, so long waited for!

       *     *     *     *     *


--A very pretty place, with a very pretty name. A kind invitation led me
hither, to seek change of air, change of scene, and every other change I
most needed.

The Britannia steam-boat, which plies daily between Toronto and
Hamilton, brought us to the mouth of the Credit River in an hour and a
half. By the orders of Mr. M * * *, a spring cart or wagon, the usual
vehicle of the country, was waiting by the inn, on the shore of the
lake, to convey me through the Woods to his house; and the master of the
inn, a decent, respectable man, drove the wagon. He had left England a
mere child, thirty years ago, with his father, mother, and seven
brothers and sisters, and eighteen years ago had come to Canada from the
United States, at the suggestion of a relation, to "settle in the bush,"
the common term for uncleared land; at that time they had nothing, as he
said, but "health and hands." The family, now reduced to five, are all
doing well. He has himself a farm of two hundred and fifty acres, his
own property; his brother has much more; his sisters are well settled.
"Any man," said he, "with health and a pair of hands, could get on well
in this country, if it were not for _the drink; that_ ruins hundreds."

They are forming a harbour at the mouth of the river--widening and
deepening the channel; but, owing to the want of means and money during
the present perplexities, the works are not going on. There is a clean,
tidy inn, and some log and frame houses; the situation is low, swampy,
and I should suppose unhealthy; but they assured me, that though still
subject to ague and fever in the spring, every year diminished this
inconvenience, as the draining and clearing of the lands around was
proceeding rapidly.

The River Credit is so called, because in _ancient_ times (_i. e._ forty
or fifty years ago) the fur traders met the Indians on its banks, and
delivered to them on _credit_ the goods for which, the following year,
they received the value, or rather ten times the value, in skins. In a
country where there is no law of debtor or creditor, no bonds, stamps,
bills, or bailiffs, no possibility of punishing, or even catching a
refractory or fraudulent debtor, but, on the contrary, every possibility
of being tomahawked by said debtor, this might seem a hazardous
arrangement; yet I have been assured by those long engaged in the trade,
both in the upper and lower province, that for an Indian to break his
engagements is a thing unheard of: and if, by any personal accident, he
should be prevented from bringing in the stipulated number of beaver
skins, his relatives and friends consider their honour implicated, and
make up the quantity for him.

The fur trade has long ceased upon these shores, once the scene of
bloody conflicts between the Hurons and the Missassaguas. The latter
were at length nearly extirpated; a wretched, degenerate remnant of the
tribe still continued to skulk about their old haunts and the
burial-place of their fathers, which is a high mound on the west bank of
the river, and close upon the lake. These were collected by the
Methodist missionaries into a village or settlement, about two miles
farther on, where an attempt has been made to civilise and convert them.
The government has expended a large sum in aid of this charitable
purpose, and about fifty log-huts have been constructed for the Indians,
each hut being divided by a partition, and capable of lodging two or
more families. There is also a chapel and a school-house. Peter Jones,
otherwise Kahkewaquonaby, a half-caste Indian, is the second chief and
religious teacher; he was in England a few years ago to raise
contributions for his people, and married a young enthusiastic
Englishwoman with a small property. She has recently quitted the village
to return to Europe. There is, besides, a regular Methodist preacher
established here, who cannot speak one word of the language of the
natives, nor hold any communion with them, except through an
interpreter. He complained of the mortality among the children, and the
yearly diminution of numbers in the settlement. The greater number of
those who remain are half-breeds, and of these, some of the young women
and children are really splendid creatures; but the general appearance
of the place and people struck me as gloomy. The Indians, whom I saw
wandering and lounging about, and the squaws wrapped in dirty blankets,
with their long black hair falling over their faces and eyes, filled me
with compassion. When the tribe were first gathered together, they
amounted to seven hundred men, women, and children; there are now about
two hundred and twenty. The missionary and his wife looked dejected; he
told me that the conference never allowed them (the missionaries) to
remain with any congregation long enough to know the people, or take a
personal interest in their welfare. In general the term of their
residence in any settlement or district was from two to three years, and
they were then exchanged for another. Among the inhabitants a few have
cultivated the portion of land allotted to them, and live in comparative
comfort; three or four women (half-caste) are favourably distinguished
by the cleanliness of their houses, and general good conduct; and some
of the children are remarkably intelligent, and can read both their own
language and English; but these are exceptions, and dirt, indolence,
and drunkenness, are but too general. Consumption is the prevalent
disease, and carries off numbers[3] of these wretched people.

After passing the Indian village, we plunged again into the depth of the
green forests, through a road or path which presented every now and then
ruts and abysses of mud, into which we sank nearly up to the axletree,
and I began to appreciate feelingly the fitness of a Canadian wagon. On
each side of this forest path the eye sought in vain to penetrate the
labyrinth of foliage, and intermingled flowers of every dye, where life
in myriad forms was creeping, humming, rustling in the air or on the
earth, on which the morning dew still glittered under the thick shades.

From these woods we emerged, after five or six miles of travelling, and
arrived at Springfield, a little village we had passed through in the
depth of winter--how different its appearance now!--and diverging from
the road, a beautiful path along the high banks above the river Credit,
brought us to Erindale, for so Mr. M * * *, in fond recollection of his
native country, has named his romantic residence.

Mr. M * * * is the clergyman and magistrate of the district, beside
being the principal farmer and land proprietor. His wife, sprung from a
noble and historical race, blended much sweetness and frankheartedness,
with more of courtesy and manner than I expected to find. My reception
was most cordial, though the whole house was in unusual bustle, for it
was the 4th of June, parade day, when the district militia were to be
turned out; and two of the young men of the family were buckling on
swords and accoutrements, and furbishing up helmets, while the sister
was officiating with a sister's pride at this military toilette, tying
on sashes and arranging epaulettes; and certainly when they
appeared--one in the pretty green costume of a rifleman, the other all
covered with embroidery as a captain of lancers--I thought I had seldom
seen two finer-looking men. After taking coffee and refreshments, we
drove down to the scene of action.

On a rising ground above the river which ran gurgling and sparkling
through the green ravine beneath, the motley troops, about three or four
hundred men, were marshalled--no, not marshalled, but scattered in a far
more picturesque fashion hither and thither: a few log-houses and a
saw-mill on the river-bank, and a little wooden church crowning the
opposite height, formed the chief features of the scene. The boundless
forest spread all around us. A few men, well mounted, and dressed as
lancers, in uniforms which were, however, anything but uniform,
flourished backwards on the green sward, to the manifest peril of the
spectators; themselves and their horses, equally wild, disorderly,
spirited, undisciplined: but this was perfection compared with the
infantry. Here there was no uniformity attempted of dress, of
appearance, of movement; a few had coats, others jackets; a greater
number had neither coats nor jackets, but appeared in their
shirt-sleeves, white or checked, or clean or dirty, in edifying variety!
Some wore hats, others caps, others their own shaggy heads of hair. Some
had firelocks; some had old swords suspended in belts, or stuck in their
waistbands; but the greater number shouldered sticks or umbrellas. Mrs.
M * * * told us that on a former parade day she had heard the word of
command given thus--"Gentlemen with the umbrellas, take ground to the
right! Gentlemen with the walking sticks, take ground to the left!" Now
they ran after each other, elbowed and kicked each other, straddled,
stooped, chattered; and if the commanding officer turned his back for a
moment, very coolly sat down on the bank to rest. Not to laugh was
impossible, and defied all power of face. Charles M. made himself hoarse
with shouting out orders which no one obeyed, except, perhaps, two or
three men in the front; and James, with his horsemen, flourished their
lances, and galloped, and capered, and curveted to admiration. James is
the popular storekeeper and postmaster of the village, and when, after
the show, we went into his warehouse to rest, I was not a little amused
to see our captain of lancers come in, and, taking off his plumed
helmet, jump over the counter to serve one customer to a "pennyworth of
tobacco," and another to a "yard of check." Willy, the younger brother,
a fine young man, who had been our cavalier on the field, assisted; and
half in jest, half in earnest, I gravely presented myself as the
purchaser of something or other, which Willy served out with a laughing
gaiety and unembarrassed simplicity quite delightful. We returned to sit
down to a plain, plenteous, and excellent dinner; everything on the
table, the wine excepted, was the produce of their own farm. Our wine,
water, and butter were iced, and everything was the best of its kind.

The parade day ended in a drunken bout and a riot, in which, as I was
afterwards informed, the colonel had been knocked down, and one or two
serious, and even fatal accidents had occurred; but it was all taken so
very lightly, so very much as a thing of course, in this half-civilised
community, that I soon ceased to think about the matter.

The next morning I looked out from my window upon a scene of wild yet
tranquil loveliness. The house is built on the edge of a steep bank
(what in Scotland they term a _scaur_), perhaps a hundred feet high, and
descending precipitously to the rapid river.[4] The banks on either side
were clothed with overhanging woods, of the sumach, maple, tamarisk,
birch, in all the rich yet delicate array of the fresh opening year.
Beyond, as usual, lay the dark pine-forest: and near to the house there
were several groups of lofty pines, the original giant-brood of the
soil; beyond these again lay the "clearing." The sky was without a
cloud, and the heat intense. I found breakfast laid in the verandah:
excellent tea and coffee, rich cream, delicious hot cakes, new laid
eggs--a banquet for a king! The young men and their labourers had been
out since sunrise, and the younger ladies of the house were busied in
domestic affairs; the rest of us sat lounging all the morning in the
verandah; and in the intervals of sketching and reading, my kind host
and hostess gave me an account of their emigration to this country ten
years ago.

Mr. M. was a Protestant clergyman of good family, and had held a
considerable living in Ireland; but such was the disturbed state of the
county in which he resided, that he was not only unable to collect his
tithes, but for several years neither his own life nor that of any of
his family was safe. They never went out unarmed, and never went to rest
at night without having barricadoed their house like a fortress. The
health of his wife began to fail under this anxiety, and at length,
after a severe struggle with old feelings and old habits, he came to the
determination to convert his Irish property into ready money, and
emigrate to Canada, with four fine sons, from seven to seventeen years
old, and one little daughter. Thus Canada has become an asylum, not only
for those who cannot pay tithes, but for those who cannot get them.

Soon after his arrival, he purchased eight hundred acres of land along
the banks of the Credit. With the assistance of his sons and a few
labourers, he soon cleared a space of ground for a house, in a situation
of great natural beauty, but then a perfect wilderness; and with no
other aid, designed and built it in very pretty taste. Being thus secure
of lodging and shelter, they proceeded in their toilsome work--toilsome,
most laborious, he allowed it to be, but not unrewarded; and they have
now one hundred and fifty acres of land cleared and in cultivation; a
noble barn, entirely constructed by his sons, measuring sixty feet long
by forty in width; a carpenter's shop, a turning-lathe, in the use of
which the old gentleman and one of his sons are very ingenious and
effective; a forge; extensive outhouses; a farmyard well stocked; and a
house comfortably furnished, much of the ornamental furniture being
contrived, carved, turned, by the father and his sons. These young men,
who had received in Ireland the rudiments of a classical education, had
all a mechanical genius, and here, with all their energies awakened, and
all their physical and mental powers in full occupation, they are a
striking example of what may be done by activity and perseverance; they
are their own architects, masons, smiths, carpenters, farmers,
gardeners; they are, moreover, bold and keen hunters, quick in resource,
intelligent, cheerful, united by strong affection, and doating on their
gentle sister, who has grown up among these four tall, manly brothers,
like a beautiful azalia under the towering and sheltering pines. Then I
should add, that one of the young men knows something of surgery, can
bleed or set a broken limb in case of necessity; while another knows as
much of law as enables him to draw up an agreement, and settle the
quarrels and arrange the little difficulties of their poorer neighbours,
without having recourse to the "attorney."

The whole family appear to have a lively feeling for natural beauty, and
a taste for natural history; they know the habits and the haunts of the
wild animals which people their forest domain; they have made
collections of minerals and insects; and have "traced each herb and
flower that sips the silvery dew." Not only the stout servant girl,
(whom I met running about with a sucking-pig in her arms, looking for
its mother,) and the little black boy Alick,--but the animals in the
farmyard, the old favourite mare, the fowls which come trooping round
the benignant old gentleman, or are the peculiar pets of the ladies of
the family,--the very dogs and cats appear to me, each and all, the most
enviable of their species. There is an atmosphere of benevolence and
cheerfulness breathing round, which penetrates to my very heart. I know
not when I have felt so quietly--so entirely happy--so full of
sympathy--so light-hearted--so inclined to shut out the world, and its
cares and vanities, and "fleet the time as they did i' the golden age."

Mr. M. told me, that for the first seven or eight years they had all
lived and worked together on his farm; but latterly he had reflected
that though the proceeds of the farm afforded a subsistence, it did not
furnish the means of independence for his sons, so as to enable them to
marry and settle in the world. He has therefore established two of his
sons as storekeepers, the one in Springfield, the other at Streetsville,
both within a short distance of his own residence, and they have
already, by their intelligence, activity, and popular manners, succeeded
beyond his hopes.

I could perceive that in taking this step there had been certain
prejudices and feelings to be overcome on his own part and that of his
wife: the family pride of the well-born Irish gentleman, and the
antipathy to anything like trade, once cherished by a certain class in
the old country--these were to be conquered, before he could reconcile
himself to the idea of his boys serving out groceries in a Canadian
village; but they _were_ overcome. Some lingering of the "old Adam" made
him think it necessary to excuse--to account for this state of things.
He did not know with what entire and approving sympathy I regarded, not
the foolish national prejudices of my country, but the honest, generous
spirit and good sense through which he had conquered them, and provided
for the future independence of his children.

I inquired concerning the extent of his parish, and the morals and
condition of his parishioners.

He said that on two sides the district under his charge might be
considered as without bounds, for, in fact, there was no parish boundary
line between him and the North Pole. He has frequently ridden from
sixteen to thirty miles to officiate at a marriage or a funeral, or
baptize a child, or preach a sermon, wherever a small congregation could
be collected together; but latterly his increasing age rendered such
exertion difficult. His parish church is in Springfield. When he first
took the living, to which he was appointed on his arrival in the
country, the salary--for here there are no tithes--was two hundred a
year: some late measure, fathered by Mr. Hume, had reduced it to one
hundred. He spoke of this without bitterness as regarded himself,
observing that he was old, and had other means of subsistence; but he
considered it as a great injustice both to himself and to his
successors--"For," said he, "it is clear that no man could take charge
of this extensive district without keeping a good horse, and a boy to
rub him down. Now, in this country, where wages are high, he could not
keep a horse and a servant, and wear a whole coat, for less than one
hundred a year. No man, therefore, who had not other resources, could
live upon this sum; and no man who _had_ other resources, and had
received a fitting education, would be likely to come here. I say
nothing of the toil, the fatigue, the deep responsibility--these belong
to his vocation, in which, though a man must labour, he need not surely
starve:--yet starve he must, unless he takes a farm or a store in
addition to his clerical duties. A clergyman in such circumstances could
hardly command the respect of his parishioners: what do _you_ think,

When the question was thus put, I could only think the same: it seems to
me that there must be something wrong in the whole of this Canadian
church system, from beginning to end.

With regard to the morals of the population around him, he spoke of two
things as especially lamentable, the prevalence of drunkenness, and the
early severing of parental and family ties; the first, partly owing to
the low price of whisky, the latter to the high price of labour, which
rendered it the interest of the young of both sexes to leave their home,
and look out and provide for themselves as soon as possible. This fact,
and its consequences, struck him the more painfully, from the contrast
it exhibited to the strong family affections, and respect for parental
authority, which even in the midst of squalid, reckless misery and ruin,
he had been accustomed to in poor Ireland. The general morals of the
women he considered infinitely superior to those of the men; and in the
midst of the horrid example and temptation, and one may add,
provocation, round them, their habits were generally sober. He knew
himself but two females abandoned to habits of intoxication, and in both
instances the cause had been the same--an unhappy home and a brutal

He told me many other interesting circumstances and anecdotes, but being
of a personal nature, and his permission not expressly given, I do not
note them down here.

On the whole, I shall never forget the few days spent with this
excellent family. We bade farewell, after many a cordial entreaty on
their part, many a promise on mine, to visit them again. Charles M.
drove me over to the Credit, where we met the steam-boat, and I returned
to Toronto with my heart full of kindly feelings, my fancy full of
delightful images, and my lap full of flowers, which Charles had
gathered for me along the margin of the forest: flowers such as we
transplant and nurture with care in our gardens and green-houses, most
dazzling and lovely in colour, strange and new to me in their forms, and
names, and uses: unluckily I am no botanist, so will not venture to
particularize farther; but one plant struck me particularly, growing
everywhere in thousands: the stalk is about two feet in height, and at
the top are two large fan-like leaves, one being always larger than the
other; from between the two springs a single flower, in size and shape
somewhat resembling a large wild rose, the petal white, just tinted with
a pale blush. The flower is succeeded by an oval-shaped fruit, which is
eaten, and makes an excellent preserve. They call it here the May-apple.

[Footnote 3: The notes thrown together here are the result of three
different visits to the Credit, and information otherwise obtained.]

[Footnote 4: In this river the young sportsmen of the family had speared
two hundred salmon in a single night. The salmon-hunts in Canada are
exactly like that described so vividly in Guy Mannering. The fish thus
caught is rather a large species of trout than genuine salmon. The sport
is most exciting.]

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                                 June 8.

We have already exchanged "the bloom and ravishment of spring" for all
the glowing maturity of summer; we gasp with heat, we long for ices, and
are planning venetian blinds; and three weeks ago there was snow lying
beneath our garden fences, and not a leaf on the trees! In England, when
Nature wakes up from her long winter, it is like a sluggard in the
morning,--she opens one eye and then another, and shivers and draws her
snow coverlet over her face again, and turns round to slumber more than
once, before she emerges at last lazily and slowly, from her winter
chamber; but here, no sooner has the sun peeped through her curtains,
than up she springs, like a huntress for the chase, and dons her kirtle
of green, and walks abroad in full-blown life and beauty. I am basking
in her smile like an insect or a bird!--Apropos to birds, we have, alas!
no singing birds in Canada. There is, indeed, a little creature of the
ouzel kind, which haunts my garden, and has a low, sweet warble, to
which I listen with pleasure; but we have nothing like the rich,
continuous song of the nightingale or lark, or even the linnet. We have
no music in our groves but that of the frogs, which set up such a shrill
and perpetual chorus every evening, that we can scarce hear each other
speak. The regular manner in which the bass and treble voices respond to
each other is perfectly ludicrous, so that in the midst of my impatience
I have caught myself laughing. Then we have every possible variety of
note, from the piping squeak of the tree-frog, to the deep, guttural
croak, almost roar, of the bull-frog.

The other day, while walking near a piece of water, I was startled by a
very loud deep croak, as like the croak of an ordinary frog, as the
bellow of a bull is like the bleat of a calf; and looking round,
perceived one of those enormous bull-frogs of the country seated with
great dignity on the end of a plank, and staring at me. The monster was
at least a foot in length, with a pair of eyes like spectacles; on
shaking my parasol at him, he plunged to the bottom in a moment. They
are quite harmless, I believe, though slander accuses them of attacking
the young ducks and chickens.

There is considerable beauty around me--not that I am going to give you
descriptions of scenery, which are always, however eloquent, in some
respect failures. Words can no more give you a definite idea of the
combination of forms and colours in scenery, than so many musical notes:
music were, indeed, the better vehicle of the two. Felix Mendelssohn,
when a child, used to say, "I cannot tell you how such or such a thing
was--I cannot speak it--I will play it to you!"--and run to his piano:
sound was then to him a more perfect vehicle than words;--so, if I were
a musician, I would _play_ you Lake Ontario, rather than describe it.
Ontario means _the beautiful_, and the word is worthy of its
signification, and the lake is worthy of its beautiful name; yet I can
hardly tell you in what this fascination consists: there is no scenery
around it, no high lands, no bold shores, no picture to be taken in at
once by the eye; the swamp and the forest enclose it, and it is so wide
and so vast that it presents all the monotony without the majesty of the
ocean. Yet, like that great ocean, when I lived beside it, the expanse
of this lake has become to me like the face of a friend. I have all its
various _expressions_ by heart. I go down upon the green bank, or along
the King's Pier, which projects about two hundred yards into the bay. I
sit there with my book, reading sometimes, but oftener watching untired
the changeful colours as they flit over the bosom of the lake. Sometimes
a thunder-squall from the west sends the little sloops and schooners
sweeping and scudding into the harbour for shelter. Sometimes the sunset
converts its surface into a sea of molten gold, and sometimes the young
moon walks trembling in a path of silver; sometimes a purple haze floats
over its bosom like a veil; sometimes the wind blows strong, and the
wild turbid waves come rolling in like breakers, flinging themselves
over the pier in wrath and foam, or dancing like spirits in their glee.
Nor is the land without some charm. About four miles from Toronto the
river Humber comes down between high wood-covered banks, and rushes into
the lake: a more charming situation for villas and garden-houses could
hardly be desired than the vicinity of this beautiful little river, and
such no doubt we shall see in time.

The opposite shore of the bay of Toronto is formed by a long sand-bank,
called "the Island," though, in fact, no island, but a very narrow
promontory, about three miles in length, and forming a rampart against
the main waters of the lake. At the extremity is a light-house, and a
few stunted trees and underwood. This marsh, intersected by islets and
covered with reeds, is the haunt of thousands of wild-fowl, and of the
terrapin, or small turtle of the lake; and as evening comes on, we see
long rows of red lights from the fishing-boats gleaming along the
surface of the water, for thus they spear the lake salmon, the bass, and
the pickereen.

The only road on which it is possible to take a drive with comfort is
Yonge Street, which is macadamised for the first twelve miles. This road
leads from Toronto northwards to Lake Simcoe, through a well-settled and
fertile country. There are some commodious, and even elegant houses in
this neighbourhood. Dundas Street, leading west to the London district
and Lake Huron, is a very rough road for a carriage, but a most
delightful ride. On this side of Toronto you are immediately in the pine
forest, which extends with little interruption (except a new settlement
rising here and there) for about fifty miles to Hamilton, which is the
next important town. The wooded shores of the lake are very beautiful,
and abounding in game. In short, a reasonable person might make himself
very happy here, if it were not for some few things, among which, those
Egyptian plagues, the flies and frogs in summer, and the relentless iron
winter, are not the most intolerable; add, perhaps, the prevalence of
sickness at certain seasons. At present many families are flying off to
Niagara, for two or three days together, for change of air; and I am
meditating a flight myself, of such serious extent, that some of my
friends here laugh outright; others look kindly alarmed, and others
civilly incredulous. Bad roads, bad inns--or rather _no_ roads, no
inns;--wild Indians, and white men more savage far than they;--dangers
and difficulties of every kind are threatened and prognosticated, enough
to make one's hair stand on end. To undertake such a journey _alone_ is
rash perhaps--yet alone it must be achieved, I find, or not at all; I
shall have neither companion nor man-servant, nor _femme de chambre_,
nor even a "little foot-page" to give notice of my fate, should I be
swamped in a bog, or eaten up by a bear, or scalped, or disposed of in
some strange way; but shall I leave this fine country without seeing
anything of its great characteristic features?--and, above all, of its
aboriginal inhabitants? The French have a proverb which does honour to
their gallantry, and to which, from experience, I am inclined to give
full credence--"_Ce que femme veut, Dieu veut_." We shall see.

       *     *     *     *     *


How admirable what Sir James Mackintosh says of Madame de
Maintenon!--that "she was as virtuous as the fear of hell and the fear
of shame could make her." The same might be said of the virtue of many
women I know, and of these, I believe, that more are virtuous from the
fear of shame than the fear of hell.--Shame is the woman's hell.

Who that has lived in the world, in society, and looked on both with
observing eye, but has often been astonished at the fearlessness of
women, and the cowardice of men, with regard to public opinion? The
reverse would seem to be the natural, the necessary result of the
existing order of things, but it is not always so. Exceptions occur so
often, and so immediately within my own province of observation, that
they have made me reflect a good deal. Perhaps this seeming discrepancy
might be thus explained.

Women are brought up in the fear of opinion, but, from their ignorance
of the world, they are in fact ignorant of that which they fear. They
fear opinion as a child fears a spectre, as something shadowy and
horrible, not defined or palpable. It is a fear based on habit, on
feeling, not on principle or reason. When their passions are strongly
excited, or when reason becomes matured, this exaggerated fear vanishes,
and the probability is, that they are immediately thrown into the
opposite extreme of incredulity, defiance, and rashness: but a man, even
while courage is preached to him, learns from habitual intercourse with
the world the immense, the terrible power of opinion. It wraps him round
like despotism; it is a reality to him; to a woman a shadow, and if she
can overcome the fear in her own person, all is overcome. A man fears
opinion for himself, his wife, his daughter; and if the fear of opinion
be brought into conflict with primary sentiments and principles, it is
ten to one but the habit of fear prevails, and opinion triumphs over
reason and feeling too.

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                                June 13.

In these latter days I have lived in friendly communion with so many
excellent people, that my departure from Toronto was not what I
anticipated--an escape on one side, or a riddance on the other. My
projected tour to the west has excited not only some interest, but much
kind solicitude; and aid and counsel have been tendered with a feeling
which touched me deeply.

The first bell of the steam-boat had not yet rung, when one of my
friends came running up to tell me that the missionary from the
Sault-Saint-Marie, and his Indian wife, had arrived at Toronto, and were
then at the inn, and that there was just time to introduce me to them.
No sooner thought than done: in another moment we were in the hotel, and
I was introduced to Mrs. MacMurray, otherwise O-ge-ne-bu-go-quay, (i. e.
_the wild rose_).

I must confess that the specimens of Indian squaws and half-caste women
I had met with, had in no wise prepared me for what I found in Mrs.
MacMurray. The first glance, the first sound of her voice, struck me
with a pleased surprise. Her figure is tall--at least it is rather above
than below the middle size, with that indescribable grace and undulation
of movement which speaks the perfection of form. Her features are
distinctly Indian, but softened and refined, and their expression at
once bright and kindly. Her dark eyes have a sort of fawn-like shyness
in their glance, but her manner, though timid, was quite free from
embarrassment or restraint. She speaks English well, with a slightly
foreign intonation, not the less pleasing to my ear that it reminded me
of the voice and accent of some of my German friends. In two minutes I
was seated by her--my hand kindly folded in hers--and we were talking
over the possibility of my plans. It seems that there is some chance of
my reaching the Island of Michilimackinac, but of the Sault-Saint-Marie
I dare hardly think as yet--it looms in my imagination dimly described
in far space, a kind of Ultima Thule; yet the sight of Mrs. MacMurray
seemed to give something definite to the vague hope which had been
floating in my mind. Her sister, she said, was married to the American
Indian agent at Michilimackinac, and from both she promised me a
welcome, should I reach their island. To her own far off home at the
Sault-Saint-Marie, between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, she warmly
invited me--without, however, being able to point out any conveyance or
mode of travelling thither that could be depended on--only a possible
chance of such. Meantime there was _some_ hope of our meeting
_some_where on the road, but it was of the faintest. She thanked me
feelingly for the interest I took in her own fated race, and gave me
excellent hints as to my manner of proceeding. We were in the full tide
of conversation when the bell of the steam-boat rang for the last time,
and I was hurried off. On the deck of the vessel I found her husband,
Mr. MacMurray, who had only time to say, in fewest words, all that was
proper, polite, and hospitable. This rencontre, which some would call
accidental, and some providential, pleased and encouraged me. Then came
blessings, good wishes, kind pressures of the hand, and last adieus, and
waving of handkerchiefs from the shore, as the paddles were set in
motion, and we glided swiftly over the mirror-like bay.

The day was sultry, the air heavy and still, and a strange fog, or
rather a series of dark clouds, hung resting on the bosom of the lake,
which in some places was smooth and transparent as glass--in others,
little eddies of wind had ruffled it into tiny waves, or welts
rather--so that it presented the appearance of patchwork. The boatmen
looked up, and foretold a storm; but when we came within three or four
miles from the mouth of the river Niagara, the fog drew off like a
curtain, and the interminable line of the dark forest came into view,
stretching right and left along the whole horizon; then the white
buildings of the American fort, and the spires of the town of Niagara,
became visible against the rich purple-green back-ground, and we landed
after a four hours' voyage. The threatened storm came on that night. The
summer storms of Canada are like those of the tropics: not in Italy, not
among the Apennines, where I have in my time heard the "live thunder
leaping from crag to crag," did I ever hear such terrific explosions of
sound as burst over our heads this night. The silence and the darkness
lent an added horror to the elemental tumult--and for the first time in
my life I felt sickened and unpleasantly affected in the intervals
between the thunder-claps, though I cannot say I felt fear. Meantime the
rain fell as in a deluge, threatening to wash us into the lake, which
reared itself up, and roared--like a monster for its prey.

Yet, the next morning, when I went down upon the shore, how beautiful
it looked--the hypocrite!--there it lay rocking and sleeping in the
sunshine, quiet as a cradled infant. Niagara, in its girdle of verdure
and foliage, glowing with fresh life, and breathing perfume, appeared to
me a far different place from what I had seen in winter. As I stood on
the shore, quietly thinking, I was startled by the sound of the
death-bell, pealing along the sunny blue waters. They said it was tolled
for a young man of respectable family, who, at the age of three or four
and twenty, had died from habitual drinking; his elder brother having a
year or two before fallen from his horse in a state of intoxication, and
perished in consequence. Yes, everything I see and hear on this subject
convinces me that it should be one of the first objects of the
government to put down, by all and every means, a vice which is rotting
at the core of this colony--poisoning the very sources of existence; but
all their taxes, and prohibitions, and excise laws, will do little good,
unless they facilitate the means of education. In society, the same
evening, the appearance of a very young, very pretty, sad-looking
creature, with her first baby at her bosom, whose husband was staggering
and talking drunken gibberish at her side, completed the impression of
disgust and affright with which the continual spectacle of this vile
habit strikes me since I have been in this country.

Before quitting the subject of Niagara, I may as well mention an
incident which occurred shortly afterwards, on my last visit to the
town, which interested me much at the time, and threw the whole of this
little community into a wonderful ferment.


A black man, a slave somewhere in Kentucky, having been sent on a
message, mounted on a very valuable horse, seized the opportunity of
escaping. He reached Buffalo after many days of hard riding, sold the
horse, and escaped beyond the lines into Canada. Here, as in all the
British dominions, God be praised! the slave is slave no more, but free,
and protected in his freedom.[5] This man acknowledged that he had not
been ill treated; he had received some education, and had been a
favourite with his master. He gave as a reason for his flight, that he
had long wished to marry, but was resolved that his children should not
be born slaves. In Canada, a runaway slave is assured of legal
protection; but, by an international compact between the United States
and our provinces, all felons are mutually surrendered. Against this
young man the jury in Kentucky had found a true bill for horse-stealing;
as a felon, therefore, he was pursued, and, on the proper legal
requisition, arrested; and then lodged in the jail of Niagara, to be
given up to his master, who, with an American constable, was in
readiness to take him into custody, as soon as the government order
should arrive. His case excited a strong interest among the whites,
while the coloured population, consisting of many hundreds in the
districts of Gore and Niagara, chiefly refugees from the States, were
half frantic with excitement. They loudly and openly declared that they
would peril their lives to prevent his being carried again across the
frontiers, and surrendered to the vengeance of his angry master.
Meantime there was some delay about legal forms, and the mayor and
several of the inhabitants of the town united in a petition to the
governor in his favour. In this petition it was expressly mentioned,
that the master of the slave had been heard to avow that his intention
was not to give the culprit up to justice, but to make what he called an
_example_ of him. Now there had been lately some frightful instances of
what the slave proprietors of the south called "making an example;" and
the petitioners entreated the governor to interpose, and save the man
from a torturing death "under the lash or at the stake." Probably the
governor's own humane feelings pleaded even more strongly in behalf of
the poor fellow. But it was a case in which he could not act from
feeling, or, "to do a great right, do a little wrong." The law was too
expressly and distinctly laid down, and his duty as governor was clear
and imperative--to give up the felon, although, to have protected the
slave, he would, if necessary, have armed the province.

In the mean time the coloured people assembled from the adjacent
villages, and among them a great number of their women. The conduct of
this black mob, animated and even directed by the females, was really
admirable for its good sense, forbearance, and resolution. They were
quite unarmed, and declared their intention not to commit any violence
against the English law. The culprit, they said, might lie in the jail,
till they could raise among them the price of the horse; but if any
attempt were made to take him from the prison, and send him across to
Lewiston, they would resist it at the hazard of their lives.

The fatal order _did_ at length come; the sheriff with a party of
constables prepared to enforce it. The blacks, still unarmed, assembled
round the jail, and waited till their comrade, or their brother as they
called him, was brought out and placed handcuffed in a cart. They then
threw themselves simultaneously on the sheriff's party, and a dreadful
scuffle ensued; the artillery men from the little fort, our only
military, were called in aid of the civil authorities, and ordered to
fire on the assailants. Two blacks were killed, and two or three
wounded. In the _melée_ the poor slave escaped, and has not since been
retaken, neither was he, I believe, pursued.

But it was the conduct of the women which, on this occasion, excited the
strongest surprise and interest. By all those passionate and persuasive
arguments that a woman knows so well how to use, whatever be her colour,
country, or class, they had prevailed on their husbands, brothers, and
lovers to use no arms, to do no illegal violence, but to lose their
lives rather than see their comrade taken by force across the lines.
They had been most active in the fray, throwing themselves fearlessly
between the black men and the whites, who, of course, shrank from
injuring them. One woman had seized the sheriff, and held him pinioned
in her arms; another, on one of the artillery-men presenting his piece,
and swearing that he would shoot her if she did not get out of his way,
gave him only one glance of unutterable contempt, and with one hand
knocking up his piece, and collaring him with the other, held him in
such a manner as to prevent his firing. I was curious to see a mulatto
woman who had been foremost in the fray, and whose intelligence and
influence had mainly contributed to the success of her people; M----,
under pretence of inquiring after a sick child, drove me round to the
hovel in which she lived, outside the town. She came out to speak to us.
She was a fine creature, apparently about five-and-twenty, with a kindly
animated countenance; but the feelings of exasperation and indignation
had evidently not yet subsided. She told us, in answer to my close
questioning, that she had formerly been a slave in Virginia; that, so
far from being ill treated, she had been regarded with especial kindness
by the family on whose estate she was born. When she was about sixteen
her master died, and it was said that all the slaves on the estate would
be sold, and therefore she ran away. "Were you not attached to your
mistress?" I asked. "Yes," said she, "I liked my mistress, but I did not
like to be sold." I asked her if she was happy here in Canada? She
hesitated a moment, and then replied, on my repeating the question,
"Yes--that is, I _was_ happy here--but now--I don't know--I thought we
were safe _here_--I thought nothing could touch us _here_, on your
British ground, but it seems I was mistaken, and if so, I won't stay
here--I won't--I won't! I'll go and find some country where they cannot
reach us! I'll go to the end of the world, I will!" And as she spoke,
her black eyes flashing, she extended her arms, and folded them across
her bosom, with an attitude and expression of resolute dignity, which a
painter might have studied; and truly the fairest white face I ever
looked on never beamed with more of soul and high resolve than hers at
that moment.

[Footnote 5: Among the addresses presented to Sir Francis Head in 1836,
was one from the coloured inhabitants of this part of the province,
signed by four hundred and thirty-one individuals, most of them refugees
from the United States, or their descendants.]

       *     *     *     *     *


Between the town of Queenston and the cataract of Niagara lies the
pretty little village of Stamford (close to Lundy Lane, the site of a
famous battle in the last war), and celebrated for its fine air. Near it
is a beautiful house with its domain, called Stamford Park, built and
laid out by a former governor (Sir Peregrine Maitland). It is the only
place I saw in Upper Canada combining our ideas of an elegant,
well-furnished English villa and ornamented grounds, with some of the
grandest and wildest features of the forest scene. It enchanted me
altogether. From the lawn before the house, an open glade, commanding a
park-like range of broken and undulating ground and wooded valleys,
displayed beyond them the wide expanse of Lake Ontario, even the Toronto
light-house, at a distance of thirty miles, being frequently visible to
the naked eye. By the hostess of this charming seat I was conveyed in a
light pony carriage to the hotel at the Falls, and left, with real
kindness, to follow my own devices. The moment I was alone, I hurried
down to the Table-rock. The body of water was more full and tremendous
than in the winter. The spray rose, densely falling again in thick
showers, and behind those rolling volumes of vapour the last gleams of
the evening light shone in lurid brightness, amid amber and crimson
clouds; on the other side, night was rapidly coming on, and all was
black, impenetrable gloom, and "boundless contiguity of shade." It was
very, very beautiful, and strangely awful too! For now it was late, and
as I stood there, lost in a thousand reveries, there was no human being
near, no light but that reflected from the leaping, whirling foam; and
in spite of the deep-voiced continuous thunder of the cataract, there
was such a stillness that I could hear my own heart's pulse throb--or
did I mistake feeling for hearing?--so I strayed homewards, or
housewards I should say, through the leafy, gloomy, pathways,--wet with
the spray, and fairly tired out.

       *     *     *     *     *

The good people, travellers, describers, poets, and others, who seem to
have hunted through the dictionary for words in which to depict these
cataracts under every aspect, have never said enough of the rapids
above--even for which reason, perhaps, they have struck me the more; not
that any words in any language would have prepared me for what I now
feel in this wondrous scene. Standing to-day on the banks above the
Crescent Fall, near Mr. Street's mill, gazing on the rapids, they left
in my fancy two impressions which seldom meet together,--that of the
sublime and terrible, and that of the elegant and graceful--like a tiger
at play. I could not withdraw my eyes; it was like a fascination.

The verge of the rapids is considerably above the eye; the whole mighty
river comes rushing over the brow of a hill, and as you look up, it
seems coming down to overwhelm you. Then meeting with the rocks, as it
pours down the declivity, it boils and frets like the breakers of the
ocean. Huge mounds of water, smooth, transparent, and gleaming like the
emerald, or rather like the more delicate hue of the chrysopaz, rise up
and bound over some unseen impediment, then break into silver foam,
which leaps into the air in the most graceful fantastic forms; and so it
rushes on, whirling, boiling, dancing, sparkling along, with a playful
impatience, rather than overwhelming fury, rejoicing as if escaped from
bondage, rather than raging in angry might,--wildly, magnificently
beautiful! The idea, too, of the immediate danger, the consciousness
that anything caught within its verge is inevitably hurried to a swift
destination, swallowed up, annihilated, thrills the blood; the immensity
of the picture, spreading a mile at least each way, and framed in by the
interminable forests, adds to the feeling of grandeur; while the giddy,
infinite motion of the headlong waters, dancing and leaping, and
revelling and roaring, in their mad glee, gave me a sensation of
rapturous terror, and at last caused a tension of the nerves in my head,
which obliged me to turn away.

The great ocean, when thus agitated by conflicting winds or opposing
rocks, is a more tremendous thing, but it is merely tremendous,--it
makes us think of our prayers; whereas, while I was looking on these
rapids, beauty and terror, and power and joy, were blended, and so
thoroughly, that even while I trembled and admired, I could have burst
into a wild laugh, and joined the dancing billows in their glorious,
fearful mirth,--

  Leaping like Bacchanals from rock to rock,
  Flinging the frantic Thyrsus wild and high!

I shall never see again, or feel again, aught like it--never! I did not
think there was an object in nature, animate or inanimate, that could
thus overset me!

       *     *     *     *     *

To-day I accompanied the family of Colonel Delatre to the American side,
and dined on Goat Island. Though the various views of the two cataracts
be here wonderfully grand and beautiful, and the bridge across the
rapids a sort of miracle, as they say, still it is not altogether to be
compared to the Canadian shore for picturesque scenery. The Americans
have disfigured their share of the rapids with mills and manufactories,
and horrid red brick houses, and other unacceptable, unseasonable sights
and signs of sordid industry. Worse than all is the round tower, which
some profane wretch has erected on the Crescent Fall; it stands there so
detestably impudent and _mal-à-propos_,--it is such a signal, yet puny
monument of bad taste,--so miserably _mesquin_, and so presumptuous,
that I do hope the violated majesty of nature will take the matter in
hand, and overwhelm or cast it down the precipice one of these fine
days, though indeed a barrel of gunpowder were a shorter if not a surer
method. Can you not send us out some Guy Faux, heroically ready to be
victimised in the great cause of insulted nature, and no less insulted
art? But not to tire you with descriptions of precipices, caves, rocks,
woods, and rushing waters, which I can buy here ready made for sixpence,
I will only tell you that our party was very pleasant.

The people who have spoken or written of these Falls of Niagara, have
surely never done justice to their loveliness, their inexpressible,
inconceivable beauty. The feeling of their beauty has become with me a
deeper feeling than that of their sublimity. What a scene this evening!
What splendour of colour! The emerald and chrysopaz of the transparent
waters, the dazzling gleam of the foam, and the snow-white vapour, on
which was displayed the most perfect and gigantic iris I ever
beheld,--forming not a half, but at least two thirds of an entire
circle, one extremity resting on the lesser (or American) Fall, the
other in the very lap of the Crescent Fall, spanning perhaps half a
mile, perfectly resplendent in hue--so gorgeous, so vivid, and yet so
ethereally delicate, and apparently within a few feet of the eye; the
vapours rising into the blue heavens at least four hundred feet, three
times the height of the Falls, and tinted rose and amber with the
evening sun; and over the woods around every possible variety of the
richest foliage,--no, nothing was ever so transcendently lovely! The
effect, too, was so grandly uniform in its eternal sound and movement:
it was quite different from that of those wild, impatient, tumultuous
rapids. It soothed, it melted, it composed, rather than excited.

There are no water-fowl now as in the winter--when driven from the
ice-bound shores and shallows of the lake, they came up here to seek
their food, and sported and wheeled amid the showers of spray. They have
returned to their old quiet haunts; sometimes I miss them: they were a
beautiful variety in the picture.

       *     *     *     *     *


After an absence of a few days, during which there had raged a perpetual
storm, I came back to the Clifton Hotel, to find my beautiful Falls
quite spoiled and discoloured. Instead of the soft aquamarine hue,
relieved with purest white, a dull dirty brown now imbued the waters.
This is owing to the shallowness of Lake Erie, where every storm turns
up the muddy bed from the bottom, and discolours the whole river. The
spray, instead of hovering in light clouds round and above the
cataracts, was beaten down, and rolled in volumes round their base; then
by the gusty winds driven along the surface of the river hither and
thither, covering everything in the neighbourhood with a small rain. I
sat down to draw, and in a moment the paper was wet through. It is as if
all had been metamorphosed during my absence--and I feel very

The whole of this district between the two great lakes is superlatively
beautiful, and was the first settled district in Upper Canada; it is now
the best cultivated. The population is larger in proportion to its
extent than that of any other district. In Niagara, and in the
neighbouring district of Gore, many fruits come to perfection, which are
not found to thrive in other parts of the province, and cargoes of
fruit are sent yearly to the cities of Lower Canada, where the climate
is much more severe and the winter longer than with us.

On the other side the country is far less beautiful, and they say less
fertile, but rich in activity and in population; and there are within
the same space at least half a dozen flourishing towns. Our speculating
energetic Yankee neighbours, not satisfied with their Manchester, their
manufactories, and their furnaces, and their mill "privileges," have
opened a railroad from Lewiston to Buffalo, thus connecting Lake Erie
with the Erie Canal. On our side, we have the Welland Canal, a
magnificent work, of which the province is justly proud; it unites Lake
Erie with Lake Ontario.

Yet from the Falls all along the shores of the Lake Erie to the Grand
River and far beyond it, the only place we have approaching to a town is
Chippewa, just above the rapids, as yet a small village, but lying
immediately in the road from the Western States to the Falls. From
Buffalo to this place the Americans run a steam-boat daily; they have
also planned a suspension bridge across the Niagara river, between
Lewiston and Queenston. Another village, Dunnville, on the Grand River,
is likely to be the commercial depôt of that part of the province; it is
situated where the Welland Canal joins Lake Erie.

As the weather continued damp and gloomy, without hope of change, a
sudden whim seized me to go to Buffalo for a day or two; so I crossed
the turbulent ferry to Manchester, and thence an engine, snorting,
shrieking like fifty tortured animals, conveyed us to Tonawando[6], once
a little village of Seneca Indians, now rising into a town of some size
and importance; and there to my great delight I encountered once more my
new friends, Mr. and Mrs. MacMurray, who were on their return from
Toronto to the Sault-Sainte-Marie. We proceeded on to Buffalo together,
and during the rest of the day had some pleasant opportunities of
improving our acquaintance.

Buffalo, as all travel-books will tell you, is a very fine young city,
about ten years old, and containing already about twenty thousand
inhabitants. There is here the largest and most splendid hotel I have
ever seen, except at Frankfort. Long rows of magnificent houses--not of
painted wood, but of brick and stone--are rising on every side.

The season is unusually dull and dead, and I hear nothing but complaints
around me; but compared to our Canadian shore, all here is bustle,
animation, activity. In the port I counted about fifty vessels, sloops,
schooners and steam-boats; the crowds of people buying, selling,
talking, bawling; the Indians lounging by in their blankets, the men
looking so dark, and indifferent, and lazy; the women so busy,
care-worn, and eager; and the numbers of sturdy children, squalling,
frisking among the feet of busy sailors,--formed altogether a strange
and amusing scene.

On board the Michigan steamer, then lying ready for her voyage up the
lakes to Chicago, I found all the arrangements magnificent to a degree I
could not have anticipated. This is one of three great steam-boats
navigating the Upper Lakes, which are from five to seven hundred tons
burthen, and there are nearly forty smaller ones coasting Lake Erie,
between Buffalo and Detroit, besides schooners.

[Footnote 6: Near this place lived and died the chief Red-jacket, one of
the last and greatest specimens of the Indian patriot and warrior.]

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                                June 27.

In a strange country much is to be learned by travelling in the public
carriages: in Germany and elsewhere I have preferred this mode of
conveyance, even when the alternative lay within my choice, and I never
had reason to regret it.

The Canadian stage-coaches[7] are like those of the United States, heavy
lumbering vehicles, well calculated to live in roads where any decent
carriage must needs founder. In one of these I embarked to return to the
town of Niagara, thence to pursue my journey westward: a much easier and
shorter course had been by the lake steamers; but my object was not
haste, nor to see merely sky and water, but to see the country.

In the stage-coach two persons were already seated--an English emigrant
and his wife, with whom I quickly made acquaintance after my usual
fashion. The circumstances and the story of this man I thought worth
noting--not because there was anything uncommon or peculiarly
interesting in his case, but simply because his case is that of so many
others, while the direct good sense, honesty, and intelligence of the
man pleased me exceedingly.

He told me that he had come to America in his own behalf and that of
several others of his own class--men who had each a large family and a
small capital, who found it difficult to _get on_ and settle their
children in England. In his own case, he had been some years ago the
only one of his trade in a flourishing country town where he had now
fourteen competitors. Six families, in a similar position, had delegated
him on a voyage of discovery: it was left to him to decide whether they
should settle in the United States or in the Canadas; so leaving his
children at school in Long Island, "he was just," to use his own phrase,
"taking a turn through the two countries, to look about him and gather
information before he decided, and had brought his little wife to see
the grand Falls of Niagara, of which he had heard so much in the old

As we proceeded, my companion mingled with his acute questions, and his
learned calculations on crops and prices of land, certain observations
on the beauty of the scenery, and talked of lights and shades and
foregrounds, and effects, in very homely, plebeian English, but with so
much of real taste and feeling that I was rather astonished, till I
found he had been a printseller and frame-maker, which last branch of
trade had brought him into contact with artists and amateurs; and he
told me, with no little exultation, that among his stock of moveables,
he had brought out with him several fine drawings of Prout, Hunt, and
even Turner, acquired in his business. He said he had no wish at present
to part with these, for it was his intention, wherever he settled, to
hang them up in his house, though that house were a log-hut, that his
children might have the pleasure of looking at them, and learn to
distinguish what is excellent in its kind.

The next day, on going on from Niagara to Hamilton in a storm of rain, I
found, to my no small gratification, the English emigrant and his quiet,
silent little wife, already seated in the stage, and my only _compagnons
de voyage_. In the deportment of this man there was that deferential
courtesy which you see in the manners of respectable tradesmen, who are
brought much into intercourse with their superiors in rank, without,
however, a tinge of servility; and his conversation amused and
interested me more and more. He told me he had been born on a farm, and
had first worked as a farmer's boy, then as a house-carpenter, lastly,
as a decorative carver and gilder, so that there was no kind of business
to which he could not readily turn his hand. His wife was a good
sempstress, and he had brought up all his six children to be useful,
giving them such opportunities of acquiring knowledge as he could. He
regretted his own ignorance, but, as he said, he had been all his life
too busy to find time for reading much. He was, however, resolved that
his boys and girls should read, because, as he well observed, "every
sort of knowledge, be it much or little, was sure to turn to account,
some time or other." His notions on education, his objections to the
common routine of common schools, and his views for his children, were
all marked by the same originality and good sense. Altogether he
appeared to be, in every respect, just the kind of settler we want in
Upper Canada. I was therefore pleased to hear that hitherto he was
better satisfied with the little he had seen of this province than with
those States of the Union through which he had journeyed; he said truly,
it was more "home-like, more English-like." I did my best to encourage
him in this favourable opinion, promising myself that the little I might
be able to do to promote his views, that I _would_ do.

[Footnote 7: That is, the better class of them. In some parts of Upper
Canada, the stage-coaches conveying the mail were large oblong wooden
boxes, formed of a few planks nailed together and placed on wheels, into
which you entered by the windows, there being no doors to open and shut,
and no springs. Two or three seats were suspended inside on leather
straps. The travellers provided their own buffalo-skins or cushions to
sit on.]


While the conversation was thus kept up with wonderful pertinacity,
considering that our vehicle was reeling and tumbling along the
detestable road, pitching like a scow among the breakers in a
lake-storm, our driver stopped before a vile little log-hut, over the
door of which hung, crooked-wise, a board, setting forth that "wiskey
and tabacky" were to be had there. The windows were broken, and the loud
voice of some intoxicated wretch was heard from within, in one
uninterrupted, torrent of oaths and blasphemies, so shocking in their
variety, and so new to my ears, that I was really horror-struck.

After leaving the hut, the coach stopped again. I called to the driver
in some terror, "You are not surely going to admit that drunken man into
the coach?" He replied coolly, "O no, I an't; don't you be afeard!" In
the next moment he opened the door, and the very wretch I stood in fear
of was tumbled in head foremost, smelling of spirits, and looking--O
most horrible! Expostulation was in vain. Without even listening, the
driver shut the door, and drove on at a gallop. The rain was at this
time falling in torrents, the road knee-deep in mud, the wild forest on
either side of us dark, grim, impenetrable. Help there was none, nor
remedy, nor redress, nor hope, but in patience. Here then was one of
those inflictions to which speculative travellers are exposed now and
then, appearing, _for the time_, to outweigh all the possible advantages
of experience or knowledge bought at such a price.

I had never before in my whole life been obliged to endure the presence
or proximity of such an object for two minutes together, and the
astonishment, horror, disgust, even to sickness and loathing, which it
now inspired, are really unspeakable. The Englishman placing himself in
the middle seat, in front of his wife and myself, did his best to
protect us from all possibility of contact with the object of our
abomination; while the wretched being, aware of our adverse feeling, put
on at one moment an air of chuckling self-complacency, and the next
glared on us with ferocious defiance. When I had recovered myself
sufficiently to observe, I could see that the man was not more than
five-and-twenty, probably much younger, with a face and figure which
must have been by nature not only fine, but uncommonly fine, though now
deformed, degraded, haggard with filth and inflamed with inebriety--a
dreadful and humiliating spectacle. Some glimmering remains of sense and
decency prevented him from swearing and blaspheming when once in the
coach; but he abused us horribly: his nasal accent, and his drunken
objurgations against the old country, and all who came from it, betrayed
his own birth and breeding to have been on the other side of the
Niagara, or "down east." Once he addressed some words to me, and,
offended by my resolute silence, he exclaimed with a scowl, and a hiccup
of abomination at every word, "I should like--to know--madam--how--I
came under your diabolical influence?" Here my friend the emigrant,
seeing my alarm, interposed, and a scene ensued, which, in spite of the
horrors of this horrible propinquity, was irresistibly comic, and not
without its pathetic significance too, now I think of it. The
Englishman, forgetting that the condition of the man placed him for the
time beyond the influence of reasoning or sympathy, began with grave and
benevolent earnestness to lecture him on his profligate habits,
expressing his amazement and his pity at seeing such a fine young man
fallen into such evil ways, and exhorting him to amend,--the fellow,
meanwhile, rolling himself from side to side with laughter. But suddenly
his countenance changed, and he said, with a wistful expression, and the
tears in his eyes, "Friend, do you believe in the devil?"

"Yes, I do," replied the Englishman with solemnity.

"Then it's your opinion, I guess, that a man may be tempted by the

"Yes, and I should suppose as how that has been your case, friend;
though," added he, looking at him from head to foot with no equivocal
expression, "I think the devil himself might have more charity than to
put a man in such a pickle."

"What do you mean by that?" exclaimed the wretch fiercely, and for the
first time uttering a horrid oath. The emigrant only replied by shaking
his head significantly; and the other, after pouring forth a volley of
abuse against the insolence of the "old country folk," stretched himself
on his back, and kicking up his legs on high, and setting his feet
against the roof of the Coach, fell asleep in this attitude, and snored,
till, at the end of a long hour, he was tumbled out at the door of
another drinking hovel as he had tumbled in, and we saw him no more.


The distance from the town of Niagara to Hamilton is about forty miles.
We had left the former place at ten in the morning, yet it was nearly
midnight before we arrived, having had no refreshment during the whole
day. It was market-day, and the time of the assizes, and not a bed to be
had at the only tolerable hotel, which, I should add, is large and
commodious. The people were civil beyond measure, and a bed was made up
for me in a back parlour, into which I sank half starved, and very
completely tired.

The next day rose bright and beautiful, and I amused myself walking up
and down the pretty town for two or three hours.

Hamilton is the capital of the Gore district, and one of the most
flourishing places in Upper Canada. It is situated at the extreme point
of Burlington Bay, at the head of Lake Ontario, with a population,
annually increasing, of about three thousand. The town is about a mile
from the lake shore, a space which, in the course of time, will probably
be covered with buildings. I understand that seventeen thousand bushels
of wheat were shipped here in one month. There is a bank here; a
court-house and jail looking unfinished, and the commencement of a
public reading-room and literary society, of which I cannot speak from
my own knowledge, and which appears as yet in embryo. Some of the
linendrapers' shops, called here clothing stores, and the grocery
stores, or shops for all descriptions of imported merchandise, made a
very good appearance; and there was an air of business, and bustle, and
animation about the place, which pleased me. I saw no bookseller's shop,
but a few books on the shelves of a grocery store, of the most common
and coarse description.

I should not forget to mention, that in the Niagara and Gore districts
there is a vast number of Dutch and German settlers, favourably
distinguished by their industrious, sober, and thriving habits. They are
always to be distinguished in person and dress from the British
settlers; and their houses and churches, and, above all, their
burial-places, have a distinct and characteristic look. At Berlin, the
Germans have a printing-press, and publish a newspaper in their own
language, which is circulated among their countrymen through the whole

At Hamilton I hired a light _wagon_, as they call it, a sort of gig
perched in the middle of a wooden tray, wherein my baggage was stowed;
and a man to drive me over to Brandtford, the distance being about
five-and-twenty miles, and the charge five dollars. The country all the
way was rich, and beautiful, and fertile beyond description--the roads
abominable as could be imagined to exist. So I then thought, but have
learned since that there are degrees of badness in this respect, to
which the human imagination has not yet descended. I remember a space of
about three miles on this road, bordered entirely on each side by dead
trees, which had been artificially blasted by fire, or by girdling. It
was a ghastly forest of tall white spectres, strangely contrasting with
the glowing luxurious foliage all around.

The pity I have for the trees in Canada, shows how far I am yet from
being a true Canadian. How do we know that trees do not feel their
downfall? We know nothing about it. The line which divides animal from
vegetable sensibility is as undefined as the line which divides animal
from human intelligence. And if it be true "that nothing dies on earth
but nature mourns," how must she mourn for these the mighty children of
her bosom--her pride, her glory, her garment? Without exactly believing
the assertion of the old philosopher, quoted by Evelyn, that a tree
_feels_ the first stroke of the axe, I know I never witness nor hear the
first stroke without a shudder; and as yet I cannot look on with
indifference, far less share the Canadian's exultation, when these huge
oaks, these umbrageous elms and stately pines, are lying prostrate,
lopped of all their honours, and piled in heaps with the brushwood, to
be fired,--or burned down to a charred and blackened fragment,--or
standing, leafless, sapless, seared, ghastly, having been "girdled," and
left to perish. The "Fool i' the Forest" moralised not more quaintly
over the wounded deer, than I could sometimes over those prostrate and
mangled trees. I remember, in one of the clearings to-day, one
particular tree which had been burned and blasted; only a blackened
stump of mouldering bark--a mere shell remained; and from the centre of
this, as from some hidden source of vitality, sprang up a young green
shoot, tall and flourishing, and fresh and leafy. I looked and thought
of hope! Why, indeed, should we ever despair? Can Heaven do for the
blasted tree what it cannot do for the human heart?

The largest place we passed was Ancaster, very prettily situated among
pastures and rich woods, and rapidly improving.

Before sunset I arrived at Brandtford, and took a walk about the town
and its environs. The situation of this place is most beautiful--on a
hill above the left bank of the Grand River. And as I stood and traced
this noble stream, winding through richly-wooded flats, with green
meadows and cultivated fields, I was involuntarily reminded of the
Thames near Richmond; the scenery has the same character of tranquil and
luxuriant beauty.

In Canada the traveller can enjoy little of the interest derived from
association, either historical or poetical. Yet the memory of General
Brock, and some anecdotes of the last war, lend something of this kind
of interest to the Niagara frontier; and this place, or rather the name
of this place, has certain recollections connected with it, which might
well make an idle contemplative wayfarer a little pensive.


Brandt was the chief of that band of Mohawk warriors which served on the
British side during the American War of Independence. After the
termination of the contest, the "Six Nations" left their ancient seats
to the south of Lake Ontario, and having received from the English
Government a grant of land along the banks of the Grand River, and the
adjacent shore of Lake Erie, they settled here under their chief,
Brandt, in 1783. Great part of this land, some of the finest in the
province, has lately been purchased back from them by the Government
and settled by thriving English farmers.

Brandt, who had intelligence enough to perceive and acknowledge the
superiority of the whites in all the arts of life, was at first anxious
for the conversion and civilisation of his nation; but I was told by a
gentleman who had known him, that after a visit he paid to England, this
wish no longer existed. He returned to his own people with no very
sublime idea either of our morals or manners, and died in 1807.

He is the Brandt whom Campbell has handed down to most undeserved
execration as the leader in the massacre at Wyoming. The poet indeed
tells us, in the notes to Gertrude of Wyoming, that all he has said
against Brandt must be considered as pure fiction, "for that he was
remarkable for his humanity, and not even present at the massacre;" but
the name stands in the text as heretofore, apostrophised as the
"accursed Brandt," the "monster Brandt;" and is not this most unfair, to
be hitched into elegant and popular rhyme as an assassin by wholesale,
and justice done in a little fag-end of prose?

His son, John Brandt, received a good education, and was member of the
house of assembly for his district. He too died in a short time before
my arrival in this country; and the son of his sister, Mrs. Kerr, is at
present the hereditary chief of the Six Nations.

They consist at present of two thousand five hundred, out of the seven
or eight thousand who first settled here. Here, as everywhere else, the
decrease of the Indian population settled on the reserved lands is
uniform. The white population throughout America is supposed to double
itself on an average in twenty-three years; in about the same proportion
do the Indians perish before them.

The interests and property of these Indians are at present managed by
the Government. The revenue arising from the sale of their lands is in
the hands of commissioners, and much is done for their conversion and
civilisation. It will, however, be the affair of two, or three, or more
generations; and by that time not many, I am afraid, will be left.
Consumption makes dreadful havoc among them. At present they have
churches, schools, and an able missionary who has studied their
language, besides several resident Methodist preachers. Of the two
thousand five hundred already mentioned, the far greater part retain
their old faith and customs, having borrowed from the whites only those
habits which certainly "were more honoured in the breach than in the
observance." I saw many of these people, and spoke to some, who replied
with a quiet, self-possessed courtesy, and in very intelligible English.
One group which I met outside the town, consisting of two young men in
blanket coats and leggings, one haggard old woman, with a man's hat on
her head, a blue blanket and deer-skin moccasins, and a very beautiful
girl, apparently not more than fifteen, similarly dressed, with long
black hair hanging loose over her face and shoulders, and a little baby,
many shades fairer than herself, peeping from the folds of her blanket
behind,--altogether reminded me of a group of gipsies, such as I have
seen on the borders of Sherwood Forest many years ago.


The Grand River is navigable for steam-boats from Lake Erie up to the
landing-place, about two miles below Brandtford, and from thence a canal
is to be cut, some time or other, to the town. The present site of
Brandtford was chosen on account of those very rapids which do indeed
obstruct the navigation, but turn a number of mills, here of the first
importance. The usual progress of a Canadian village is this: first, on
some running stream, the erection of a saw-mill and grist-mill for the
convenience of the neighbouring scattered settlers; then a few shanties
or log-houses for the work-people; then a grocery-store; then a
tavern--a chapel--perchance a school-house.

Not having been properly forewarned, I unfortunately allowed the driver
to take me to a wrong inn. I ought to have put up at the Mansion-house,
well kept by a retired half-pay British officer; instead of which I was
brought to the Commercial Hotel, newly undertaken by an American. I sent
to the landlord to say I wished to speak to him about proceeding on my
journey next day. The next moment the man walked into my bed-room
without hesitation or apology. I was too much accustomed to foreign
manners to be greatly discomfited; but when he proceeded to fling his
hat down on my bed, and throw himself into the only arm-chair in the
room, while I was standing, I must own I did look at him with some
surprise. To those who have been accustomed to the almost servile
courtesy of English innkeepers, the manners of the innkeepers in the
United States are not pleasant. I cannot say they ever discomposed me: I
always met with civility and attention; but the manners of the country
innkeepers in Canada are worse than anything you can meet with in the
United States, being generally kept by refugee Americans of the lowest
class, or by Canadians who, in affecting American manners and
phraseology, grossly exaggerate both.

In the present case I saw at once that no incivility was intended; my
landlord was ready at a fair price to drive me over himself, in his own
"wagon," to Woodstock; and after this was settled, finding, after a few
questions, that the man was really a most stupid, ignorant fellow, I
turned to the window, and took up a book, as a hint for him to be gone.
He continued, however, to lounge in the chair, rocking himself in
silence to and fro, till at last he _did_ condescend to take my hint,
and to take his departure.

       *     *     *     *     *

At ten o'clock next morning, a little vehicle, like that which brought
me from Hamilton, was at the door; and I set off for Woodstock, driven
by my American landlord, who showed himself as good-natured and civil as
he was impenetrably stupid.

No one who has a single atom of imagination, can travel through these
forest roads of Canada without being strongly impressed and excited. The
seemingly interminable line of trees before you; the boundless
wilderness around; the mysterious depths amid the multitudinous foliage,
where foot of man hath never penetrated,--and which partial gleams of
the noontide sun, now seen, now lost, lit up with a changeful magical
beauty,--the wondrous splendour and novelty of the flowers,--the
silence, unbroken but by the low cry of a bird, or hum of insect, or the
splash and croak of some huge bull-frog,--the solitude in which we
proceeded mile after mile, no human being, no human dwelling within
sight,--are all either exciting to the fancy, or oppressive to the
spirits, according to the mood one may be in.

       *     *     *     *     *


I observed some birds of a species new to me; there was the lovely
blue-bird, with its brilliant violet plumage; and a most gorgeous
species of woodpecker, with a black head, white breast, and back and
wings of the brightest scarlet; hence it is called by some the
field-officer, and more generally the cock of the woods. I should have
called it the coxcomb of the woods, for it came flitting across our
road, clinging to the trees before us, and remaining pertinaciously in
sight, as if conscious of its own splendid array, and pleased to be

There was also the Canadian robin, a bird as large as a thrush, but in
plumage and shape resembling the sweet bird at home "that wears the
scarlet stomacher." There were great numbers of small birds of a bright
yellow, like canaries, and I believe of the same genus. Sometimes, when
I looked up from the depth of foliage to the blue firmament above, I saw
an eagle sailing through the air on apparently motionless wings. Nor let
me forget the splendour of the flowers which carpeted the woods on
either side. I might have exclaimed with Eichendorff,

  "O Welt! Du schöne welt, Du!
  Mann sieht Dich vor Blümen kaum!"

for thus in some places did a rich embroidered pall of flowers literally
_hide_ the earth. There those beautiful plants, which we cultivate with
such care in our gardens, azalias, rhododendrons, all the gorgeous
family of the lobelia, were flourishing in wild luxuriance. Festoons of
creeping and parasitical plants hung from branch to branch. The purple
and scarlet iris, blue larkspur, and the elegant Canadian columbine with
its bright pink flowers; the scarlet lychnis, a species of orchis of the
most dazzling geranium-colour, and the white, and yellow, and purple
cyprepedium[8], bordered the path, and a thousand others of most
resplendent hues, for which I knew no names. I could not pass them with
forbearance, and my Yankee driver, alighting, gathered for me a superb
bouquet from the swampy margin of the forest. I contrived to fasten my
flowers in a wreath along the front of the wagon, that I might enjoy at
leisure their novelty and beauty. How lavish, how carelessly profuse, is
Nature in her handiwork! In the interior of the cyprepedium, which I
tore open, there was variety of configuration and colour, and gem-like
richness of ornament, enough to fashion twenty different flowers; and
for the little fly, in jewelled cuirass, which I found couched within
its recesses--what a palace! that of Aladdin could not have been more

From Brandtford we came to Paris, a new settlement, beautifully
situated, and thence to Woodstock, a distance of eighteen miles. There
is no village, only isolated inns, far removed from each other. In one
of these, kept by a Frenchman, I dined on milk and eggs and excellent
bread. Here I found every appearance of prosperity and plenty. The
landlady, an American woman, told me they had come into this wilderness
twenty years ago, when there was not another farmhouse within fifty
miles. She had brought up and settled in comfort several sons and
daughters. An Irish farmer came in, who had refreshments spread for him
in the porch, and with whom I had some amusing conversation. He, too,
was prospering with a large farm and a large family--here a blessing and
a means of wealth, too often in the old country a curse and a burden.
The good-natured fellow was extremely scandalised by my homely and
temperate fare, which he besought me to mend by accepting a glass of
whisky out of his own travelling-store, genuine potheen, which he swore
deeply, and not unpoetically, "had never seen God's beautiful world, nor
the blessed light of day, since it had been bottled in ould Ireland." He
told me, boastingly, that at Hamilton he had made eight hundred dollars
by the present extraordinary rise in the price of wheat. In the early
part of the year wheat had been selling for three or four dollars a
bushel, and rose this summer to twelve and fourteen dollars a bushel,
owing to the immense quantities exported during the winter to the back
settlements of Michigan and the Illinois.

[Footnote 8: From its resemblance in form to a shoe, this splendid
flower bears every where the same name. The English call it
lady's-slipper; the Indians know it as the moccasin flower.]


The whole drive would have been productive of unmixed enjoyment, but for
one almost intolerable drawback. The roads were throughout so execrably
bad, that no words can give you an idea of them. We often sank into
mud-holes above the axletree; then, over trunks of trees laid across
swamps, called here corduroy roads, were my poor bones dislocated. A
wheel here and there, or broken shaft lying by the way-side, told of
former wrecks and disasters. In some places they had, in desperation,
flung huge boughs of oak into the mud abyss, and covered them with clay
and sod, the rich green foliage projecting on either side. This sort of
illusive contrivance would sometimes give way, and we were nearly
precipitated into the midst. By the time we arrived at Blandford, my
hands were swelled and blistered by continually grasping with all my
strength an iron bar in front of my vehicle, to prevent myself from
being flung out, and my limbs ached wofully. I never beheld or imagined
such roads. It is clear that the people do not apply any, even the
commonest, principles of roadmaking; no drains are cut, no attempt is
made at levelling or preparing a foundation. The settlers around are too
much engrossed by the necessary toil for a daily subsistence to give a
moment of their time to road-making, without compulsion or good payment.
The statute labour does not appear to be duly enforced by the
commissioners and magistrates, and there are no labourers, and no spare
money: specie, never very plentiful in these parts, is not to be had at
present, and the 500,000_l_. voted during the last session of the
provincial parliament for the repair of the roads is not yet even
raised, I believe.

Nor is this all: the vile state of the roads, the very little
communication between places not far distant from each other, leave it
in the power of ill-disposed persons to sow mischief among the ignorant,
isolated people.

On emerging from a forest road seven miles in length, we stopped at a
little inn to refresh the poor jaded horses. Several labourers were
lounging about the door, and I spoke to them of the horrible state of
the roads. They agreed, one and all, that it was entirely the fault of
the Government; that their welfare was not cared for; that it was true
that money had been voted for the roads, but that before anything could
be done, or a shilling of it expended, it was always necessary to write
to the old country to ask the king's permission--which might be sent or
not--who could tell? And meantime they were ruined for want of roads,
which it was nobody's business to reclaim.

It was in vain that I attempted to point out to the orator of the party
the falsehood and absurdity of this notion. He only shook his head, and
said he knew better.

One man observed, that as the team of Admiral Vansittart (one of the
largest proprietors in the district) had lately broken down in a
mud-hole, there was some hope that the roads about here might be looked

About sunset I arrived at Blandford, dreadfully weary, and fevered, and
bruised, having been more than nine hours travelling twenty-five miles;
and I must needs own that not all my _savoir faire_ could prevent me
from feeling rather dejected and shy, as I drove up to the residence of
a gentleman, to whom, indeed, I had not a letter, but whose family, as I
had been assured, were prepared to receive me. It was rather formidable
to arrive thus, at fall of night, a wayfaring lonely woman, spiritless,
half-dead with fatigue, among entire strangers; but my reception set me
at ease in a moment. The words "We have been long expecting you!"
uttered in a kind, cordial voice, sounded "like sweetest music to
attending ears." A handsome, elegant-looking woman, blending French ease
and politeness with English cordiality, and a whole brood of lively
children of all sizes and ages, stood beneath the porch to welcome me
with smiles and outstretched hands. Can you imagine my bliss, my
gratitude?--no!--impossible, unless you had travelled for three days
through the wilds of Canada. In a few hours I felt quite at home, and my
day of rest was insensibly prolonged to a week, spent with this amiable
and interesting family--a week, ever while I live, to be remembered
with pleasurable and grateful feelings.


The region of Canada in which I now find myself, is called the London
District; you will see its situation at once by a glance on the map. It
lies between the Gore District and the Western District, having to the
south a large extent of the coast of Lake Erie; and on the north the
Indian territories, and part of the southern shore of Lake Huron. It is
watered by rivers flowing into both lakes, but chiefly by the river
Thames, which is here (about one hundred miles from its mouth) a small
but most beautiful stream, winding like the Isis at Oxford. Woodstock,
the nearest _village_, as I suppose I must in modesty call it, is fast
rising into an important town, and the whole district is, for its
scenery, fertility, and advantages of every kind, perhaps the finest in
Upper Canada.[9]

The society in this immediate neighbourhood is particularly good;
several gentlemen of family, superior education, and large capital,
(among whom is the brother of an English and the son of an Irish peer, a
colonel and a major in the army,) have made very extensive purchases of
land, and their estates are in flourishing progress.

One day we drove over to the settlement of one of these magnificos,
Admiral Vansittart, who has already expended upwards of twenty thousand
pounds in purchases and improvements. His house is really a curiosity,
and at the first glance reminded me of an African village--a sort of
Timbuctoo set down in the woods; it is two or three miles from the high
road, in the midst of the forest, and looked as if a number of log-huts
had jostled against each other by accident, and there stuck fast.

The admiral had begun, I imagine, by erecting, as is usual, a log-house,
while the woods were clearing; then, being in want of space, he added
another, then another and another, and so on, all of different shapes
and sizes, and full of a seaman's contrivances--odd galleries, passages,
porticos, corridors, saloons, cabins and cupboards; so that if the
outside reminded me of an African village, the interior was no less like
that of a man-of-war.

The drawing-room, which occupies an entire building, is really a noble
room, with a chimney in which they pile twenty oak logs at once. Around
this room runs a gallery, well lighted with windows from without,
through which there is a constant circulation of air, keeping the room
warm in winter and cool in summer. The admiral has, besides, so many
ingenious and inexplicable contrivances for warming and airing his
house, that no insurance office will insure him upon any terms.
Altogether it was the most strangely picturesque sort of dwelling I ever
beheld. The admiral's sister, an accomplished woman of independent
fortune, has lately arrived from Europe, to take up her residence in the
wilds. Having recently spent some years in Italy, she has brought out
with her all those pretty objects of _virtù_, with which English
travellers load themselves in that country. Here, ranged round the room,
I found views of Rome and Naples; tazzi, and marbles, and sculpture in
lava, or alabaster; miniature copies of the eternal Sibyl and Cenci,
Raphael's Vatican, &c.--things not wonderful nor rare in themselves--the
wonder was to see them here.

The woods are yet close up to the house; but there is a fine
well-cultivated garden, and the process of clearing and log-burning
proceeds all around with great animation.

On Sunday we attended the pretty little church at Woodstock, which was
filled by the neighbouring settlers of all classes: the service was well
read, and the hymns were sung by the ladies of the congregation. The
sermon, which treated of some abstract and speculative point of
theology, seemed to me not well adapted to the sort of congregation
assembled. The situation of those who had here met together to seek a
new existence in a new world, might have afforded topics of instruction,
praise, and gratitude, far more practical, more congenial, more
intelligible, than a mere controversial essay on a disputed text, which
elicited no remark nor sympathy that I could perceive. After the
service, the congregation remained some time assembled before the
church-door, in various and interesting groups--the well-dressed
families of settlers who had come from many miles' distance in vehicles
well suited to the roads--that is to say, carts, or as they call them
here teams or wagons; the belles and the beaux of "the Bush," in Sunday
trim--and innumerable children. Many were the greetings and inquiries;
the news and gossip of all the neighbourhood had to be exchanged. The
conversation among the ladies was of marriages and births--lamentations
on the want of servants, and the state of the roads--the last arrival of
letters from England--and speculations upon the character of a new
neighbour come to settle in the Bush: Among the gentlemen, it was of
crops and clearings, lumber, price of wheat, road-mending,
deer-shooting, log-burning, and so forth--subjects in which I felt a
lively interest and curiosity; and if I could not take a very brilliant
and prominent part in the discourse, I could at least listen, like the
Irish corn-field, "with all my ears."

I think it was this day at dinner that a gentleman described to me a
family of Mohawk Indians, consisting of seven individuals, who had
encamped upon some of his uncleared land in two wigwams. They had made
their first appearance in the early spring, and had since subsisted by
hunting, selling their venison for whisky or tobacco; their appearance
and situation were, he said, most wretched, and their indolence extreme.
Within three months, five out of the seven were dead of consumption; two
only were left--languid, squalid, helpless, hopeless, heartless.

[Footnote 9: The average produce of an acre of land is greater
throughout Canada than in England. In these western districts greater
than in the rest of Canada.]

       *     *     *     *     *


After several pleasant and interesting visits to the neighbouring
settlers, I took leave of my hospitable friends at Blandford with deep
and real regret; and, in the best and only vehicle which could be
procured--videlicet, a baker's cart--set out for London, the chief town
of the district; the distance being about thirty miles--a long day's
journey; the cost seven dollars.

The man who drove me proved a very intelligent and civilised person. He
had come out to Canada in the capacity of a gentleman's servant; he now
owned some land--I forget how many acres--and was besides baker-general
for a large neighbourhood, rarely receiving money in pay, but wheat, and
other farm produce. He had served as constable of the district for two
years, and gave me some interesting accounts of his thief-taking
expeditions through the wild forests in the deep winter nights. He
considered himself, on the whole, a prosperous man. He said he should be
quite happy here, were it not for his wife, who fretted and pined
continually after her "home."

The case of this poor fellow with his discontented wife is of no
unfrequent occurrence in Canada; and among the better class of settlers
the matter is worse still, the suffering more acute, and of graver

I have not often in my life met with contented and cheerful-minded
women, but I never met with so many repining and discontented women as
in Canada. I never met with _one_ woman recently settled here, who
considered herself happy in her new home and country: I _heard_ of one,
and doubtless there are others, but they are exceptions to the general
rule. Those born here, or brought here early by their parents and
relations, seemed to me very happy, and many of them had adopted a sort
of pride in their new country, which I liked much. There was always a
great desire to visit England, and some little airs of self-complacency
and superiority in those who had been there, though for a few months
only; but all, without a single exception, returned with pleasure,
unable to forego the early habitual influences of their native land.

I like patriotism and nationality in women. Among the German women both
these feelings give a strong tincture to the character; and, seldom
disunited, they blend with peculiar grace in our sex: but with a great
statesman they should stand well distinguished. Nationality is not
always patriotism, and patriotism is not, necessarily, nationality. The
English are more patriotic than national; the Americans generally more
national than patriotic; the Germans both national and patriotic.

I have observed that really accomplished women, accustomed to what is
called the best society, have more resources here, and manage better,
than some women who have no pretensions of any kind, and whose claims
to social distinction could not have been great anywhere, but whom I
found lamenting over themselves as if they had been so many exiled

Imagine the position of a fretful, frivolous woman, strong neither in
mind nor frame, abandoned to her own resources in the wilds of Upper
Canada! No--nothing can be imagined so pitiable, so ridiculous, and, to
borrow the Canadian word, "so shiftless."

My new friend and kind hostess was a being of quite a different stamp;
and though I believe she was far from thinking that she had found in
Canada a terrestrial paradise, and the want of servants and the
difficulty of educating her family as she wished, were subjects of great
annoyance to her; yet these and other evils she had met with a cheerful
spirit. Here, amid these forest wilds, she had recently given birth to a
lovely baby, the tenth, or indeed I believe the twelfth, of a flock of
manly boys and blooming girls. Her eldest daughter mean time, a fair and
elegant girl, was acquiring, at the age of fifteen, qualities and habits
which might well make ample amends for the possession of mere
accomplishments. She acted as manager in chief, and glided about in her
household avocations with a serene and quiet grace which was quite


The road, after leaving Woodstock, pursued the course of the winding
Thames. We passed by the house of Colonel Light, in a situation of
superlative natural beauty on a rising ground above the river. A lawn,
tolerably cleared, sloped down to the margin, while the opposite shore
rose clothed in varied woods, which had been managed with great taste,
and a feeling for the picturesque not common here; but the Colonel being
himself an accomplished artist accounts for this. We also passed
Beechville, a small but beautiful village, round which the soil is
reckoned very fine and fertile; a number of most respectable settlers
have recently bought land and erected houses here. The next place we
came to was Oxford, or rather Ingersol, where we stopped to dine and
rest previous to plunging into an extensive forest called the Pine

Oxford is a little village, presenting the usual saw-mill,
grocery-store and tavern, with a dozen shanties congregated on the bank
of the stream, which is here rapid and confined by high banks. Two
back-woodsmen were in deep consultation over a wagon which had broken
down in the midst of that very forest road we were about to traverse,
and which they described as most execrable--in some parts even
dangerous. As it was necessary to gird up my strength for the
undertaking, I laid in a good dinner, consisting of slices of dried
venison, broiled, hot cakes of Indian corn, eggs, butter, and a bowl of
milk. Of this good fare I partook in company with the two back-woodsmen,
who appeared to me perfect specimens of their class--tall and strong,
and bronzed and brawny, and shaggy and unshaven--very much like two
bears set on their hind legs; rude, but not uncivil, and spare of
speech, as men who had lived long at a distance from their kind. They
were too busy, however, and so was I, to feel or express any mutual
curiosity. Time was valuable, appetite urgent; so we discussed our
venison steaks in silence, and after dinner I proceeded.

The forest land through which I had lately passed was principally
covered with _hard timber_, as oak, walnut, elm, basswood. We were now
in a forest of pines, rising tall and dark, and monotonous on either
side. The road, worse certainly "than fancy ever feigned or fear
conceived," put my neck in perpetual jeopardy. The driver had often to
dismount and partly fill up some tremendous hole with boughs before we
could pass, or drag or lift the wagon over trunks of trees; or we
sometimes sank into abysses from which it is a wonder to me that we
_ever_ emerged. A natural question were--why did you not get out and
walk?--Yes indeed! I only wish it had been possible. Immediately on the
border of the road, so called, was the wild, tangled, untrodden thicket,
as impervious to the foot as the road was impassable, rich with
vegetation, variegated verdure, and flowers of loveliest dye, but the
haunt of the rattlesnake, and all manner of living and creeping things
not pleasant to encounter, or even to think of.

The mosquitos, too, began to be troublesome; but not being yet in full
force, I contrived to defend myself pretty well, by waving a green
branch before me whenever my two hands were not employed in forcible
endeavours to keep my seat. These seven miles of pine forest we
traversed in three hours and a half; and then succeeded some miles of
open flat country called the Oak Plains, and so called because covered
with thickets and groups of oak dispersed with a park-like and beautiful
effect; and still flowers, flowers everywhere. The soil appeared sandy,
and not so rich as in other parts. The road was comparatively good; and
as we approached London, clearings and new settlements appeared on every

The sun had set amid a tumultuous mass of lurid threatening clouds, and
a tempest was brooding in the air, when I reached the town, and found
very tolerable accommodations in the principal inn. I was so terribly
bruised and beaten with fatigue, that to move was impossible, and even
to speak too great an effort. I cast my weary aching limbs upon the bed,
and requested of the very civil and obliging young lady who attended to
bring me some books and newspapers. She brought me thereupon an old
compendium of geography, published at Philadelphia forty years ago, and
three old newspapers.

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                                 July 5.

The next morning the weather continued very lowering and stormy. I
received several visitors, who, hearing of my arrival, had come with
kind offers of hospitality and attention, such as are most grateful to a
solitary stranger. I had also much conversation relative to the place
and people, and the settlements around; and then I took a long walk
about the town, of which I here give you the results.

When Governor Simcoe was planning the foundation of a capital for the
whole province, he fixed at first upon the present site of London,
struck by its many and obvious advantages. Its central position in the
midst of these great lakes, being at an equal distance from Huron, Erie,
and Ontario, in the finest and most fertile district of the whole
province, on the bank of a beautiful stream, and at a safe distance from
the frontier, all pointed it out as the most eligible site for a
metropolis; but there was the want of land and water communication--a
want which still remains the only drawback to its rising prosperity. A
canal or railroad, running from Toronto and Hamilton to London, then
branching off on the right to the harbour of Goderich on Lake Huron, and
on the left to Sandwich on Lake Erie, were a glorious thing!--the one
thing needful to make this fine country the granary and storehouse of
the west; for here all grain, all fruits which flourish in the south of
Europe, might be cultivated with success--the finest wheat and rice, and
hemp and flax, and tobacco. Yet, in spite of this want, soon, I trust,
to be supplied, the town of London has sprung up and become within ten
years a place of great importance. In size and population it exceeds
every town I have yet visited, except Toronto and Hamilton. The first
house was erected in 1827; now, that is in 1837, it contains more than
two hundred frame or brick houses; and there are many more building. The
population may be about thirteen hundred people. The jail and
court-house, comprised in one large stately edifice, seemed the glory of
the townspeople. As for the style of architecture, I may not attempt to
name or describe it; but a gentleman informed me, in rather equivocal
phrase, that it was "_somewhat Gothic_." There are five places of
worship, for the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Roman
Catholics, and Baptists. The church is handsome. There are also three or
four schools, and seven taverns. The Thames is very beautiful here, and
navigable for boats and barges. I saw to-day a large timber raft
floating down the stream, containing many thousand feet of timber. On
the whole, I have nowhere seen such evident signs of progress and

The population consists principally of artisans--as blacksmiths,
carpenters, builders, all flourishing. There is, I fear, a good deal of
drunkenness and profligacy; for though the people have work and wealth,
they have neither education nor amusements. Besides the seven taverns,
there is a number of little grocery stores, which are, in fact, drinking
houses. And though a law exists, which forbids the sale of spirituous
liquors in small quantities by any but licensed publicans, they easily
contrive to elude the law; as thus:--a customer enters the shop, and
asks for two or three pennyworth of nuts, or cakes, and he receives a
few nuts, and a large glass of whisky. The whisky, you observe, is
given, not sold, and no one can swear to the contrary. In the same
manner, the severe law against selling intoxicating liquors to the poor
Indians is continually eluded or violated, and there is no redress for
the injured, no punishment to reach the guilty. It appears to me that
the Government should be more careful in the choice of the
district-magistrates. While I was in London, a person who acted in this
capacity was carried from the pavement dead drunk.


Here, as everywhere else, I find the women of the better class lamenting
over the want of all society, except of the lowest grade in manners and
morals. For those who have recently emigrated, and are settled more in
the interior, there is absolutely no social intercourse whatever; it is
quite out of the question. They seem to me perishing of _ennui_, or from
the want of sympathy which they cannot obtain, and, what is worse, which
they cannot feel: for being in general unfitted for out-door
occupations, unable to comprehend or enter into the interests around
them, and all their earliest prejudices and ideas of the fitness of
things continually outraged in a manner exceedingly unpleasant, they may
be said to live in a perpetual state of inward passive discord and
fretful endurance--

  "All too timid and reserved
  For onset, for resistance too inert--
  Too weak for suffering, and for hope too tame."

In women, as now educated, there is a strength of local habits and
attachments, a want of cheerful self-dependence, a cherished physical
delicacy, a weakness of temperament,--deemed, and falsely deemed, in
deference to the pride of man, essential to feminine grace and
refinement,--altogether unfitting them for a life which were otherwise
delightful:--the active out-of-door life in which she must share and
sympathise, and the inn-door occupations which in England are considered
servile; for a woman who cannot perform for herself and others all
household offices, has no business here. But when I hear some men
declare that they cannot endure to see women eat, and others speak of
brilliant health and strength in young girls as being rude and vulgar,
with various notions of the same kind too grossly absurd and perverted
even for ridicule, I cannot wonder at any nonsensical affectations I
meet with in my own sex; nor can I do otherwise than pity the mistakes
and deficiencies of those who are sagely brought up with the one end and
aim--to get married.

A woman, blessed with good health, a cheerful spirit, larger sympathies,
larger capabilities of reflection and action, some knowledge of herself,
her own nature, and the common lot of humanity, with a plain
understanding, which has been allowed to throw itself out unwarped by
sickly fancies and prejudices,--such a woman would be as happy in Canada
as anywhere in the world. A weak, frivolous, half-educated, or
ill-educated woman may be as miserable in the heart of London as in the
heart of the forest. But there her deficiencies are not so injurious,
and are supplied to herself and others by the circumstances and
advantages around her.

I have heard it laid down as a principle, that the purpose of education
is to fit us for the circumstances in which we are likely to be placed.
I deny it absolutely. Even if it could be exactly known (which it
cannot) what those circumstances may be, I should still deny it.
Education has a far higher object. I remember to have read of some
Russian prince (was it not Potemkin?), who, when he travelled, was
preceded by a gardener, who around his marquee scattered an artificial
soil, and stuck into it shrubs and bouquets of flowers, which, while
assiduously watered, looked pretty for twenty-four hours perhaps, then
withered or were plucked up. What shallow barbarism to take pleasure in
such a mockery of a garden! better the wilderness--better the waste!
that forest, that rock yonder, with creeping weeds around it! An
education that is to fit us for circumstances, seems to me like that
Russian garden. No; the true purpose of education is to cherish and
unfold the seed of immortality already sown within us; to develope, to
their fullest extent, the capacities of every kind with which God who
made us has endowed us. Then we shall be fitted for all circumstances,
or know how to fit circumstances to ourselves. Fit us for circumstances!
Base and mechanical! Why not set up at once a "_fabrique d'education_,"
and educate us by steam? The human soul, be it man's or woman's, is not,
I suppose, an empty bottle, into which you shall pour and cram just what
you like, and as you like; nor a plot of waste soil, in which you shall
sow what you like; but a divine, a living germ planted by an almighty
hand, which you may indeed render more or less productive, or train to
this or that form--no more. And when you have taken the oak sapling, and
dwarfed it, and pruned it, and twisted it, into an ornament for the
jardinière in your drawing-room, much have you gained truly; and a
pretty figure your specimen is like to make in the broad plain and under
the free air of heaven!

       *     *     *     *     *


The plan of travel I had laid down for myself did not permit of my
making any long stay in this new London. I was anxious to push on to the
Talbot Settlement, or, as it is called here, the Talbot _Country_, a
name not ill-applied to a vast tract of land stretching from east to
west along the shore of Lake Erie, and of which Colonel Talbot is the
sovereign _de facto_, if not _de jure_--be it spoken without any
derogation to the rights of our lord the king. This immense settlement,
the circumstances to which it owed its existence, and the character of
the eccentric man who founded it on such principles as have insured its
success and prosperity, altogether inspired me with the strongest
interest and curiosity.

To the residence of this "big chief," as an Indian styled him--a
solitary mansion on a cliff above Lake Erie, where he lived alone in his
glory--was I now bound, without exactly knowing what reception I was to
meet there, for that was a point which the despotic habits and
eccentricities of this hermit-lord of the forest rendered a little
doubtful. The reports I had heard of his singular manners, of his being
a sort of woman-hater, who had not for thirty years allowed a female to
appear in his sight, I had partly discredited, yet enough remained to
make me feel a little nervous. However, my resolution was taken, and the
colonel had been apprised of my intended visit, though of his gracious
acquiescence I was yet to learn; so, putting my trust in Providence, as
heretofore, I prepared to encounter the old buffalo in his lair.

From the master of the inn at London I hired a vehicle and a driver for
eight dollars. The distance was about thirty miles; the road, as my
Irish informant assured me, was quite "iligant!" but hilly, and so
broken by the recent storms, that it was thought I could not reach my
destination before nightfall, and I was advised to sleep at the little
town of St. Thomas, about twelve or fifteen miles on this side of Port
Talbot. However, I was resolute to try, and, with a pair of stout horses
and a willing driver, did not despair. My conveyance from Blandford had
been a baker's cart, on springs; but springs were a luxury I was in
future to dispense with. My present vehicle, the best to be procured,
was a common cart, with straw at the bottom; in the midst a seat was
suspended on straps, and furnished with a cushion, not of the softest. A
board nailed across the front served for the driver, a quiet,
demure-looking boy of fifteen or sixteen, with a round straw hat and a
fustian jacket. Such was the elegant and appropriate equipage in which
the "chancellor's lady," as they call me here, paid her first visit of
state to the "great Colonel Talbot."

On leaving the town, we crossed the Thames on a wooden bridge, and
turned to the south through a very beautiful valley, with cultivated
farms and extensive clearings on every side. I was now in the Talbot
country, and had the advantage of travelling on part of the road
constructed under the colonel's direction, which, compared with those I
had recently travelled, was better than tolerable. While we were slowly
ascending an eminence, I took the opportunity of entering into some
discourse with my driver, whose very demure and thoughtful, though
boyish face, and very brief, but pithy and intelligent replies to some
of my questions on the road, had excited my attention. Though perfectly
civil, and remarkably self-possessed, he was not communicative nor
talkative; I had to pluck out the information blade by blade, as it
were. And here you have my catechism, with question and response, word
for word, as nearly as possible.


"Were you born in this country?"

"No; I'm from the old country."

"From what part of it?"

"From about Glasgow."

"What is your name?"

"Sholto ----."

"Sholto!--that is rather an uncommon name, is it not?"

"I was called Sholto after a son of Lord Douglas. My father was Lord
Douglas's gardener."

"How long have you been here?"

"I came over with my father about five years, ago." (In 1832.)

"How came your father to emigrate?"

"My father was one of the commuted pensioners, as they call them.[10] He
was an old soldier in the veteran battalion, and he sold his pension of
fivepence a day for four years and a grant of land, and came out here.
Many did the like."

"But if he was gardener to Lord Douglas, he could not have suffered from

"Why, he was not a gardener _then_; he was a weaver; he worked hard
enough for us. I remember often waking in the middle of the night, and
seeing my father working still at his loom, as if he would never give
over, while my mother and all of us were asleep."

"All of us!--how many of you?"

"There were six of us: but my eldest brother and myself could do

"And you all emigrated with your father?"

"Why, you see, at last he couldn't get no work, and trade was dull, and
we were nigh starving. I remember I was always hungry then--always."

"And you all came out?"

"All but my eldest brother. When we were on the way to the ship, he got
frightened and turned back, and wouldn't come. My poor mother cried very
much, and begged him hard. Now the last we heard of him is, that he is
very badly off, and can't get no work at all."

"Is your father yet alive?"

"Yes, he has land up in Adelaide."

"Is your mother alive?"

"No; she died of the cholera, coming over. You see the cholera broke out
in the ship, and fifty-three people died, one after t'other, and were
thrown into the sea. My mother died, and they threw her into the sea.
And then my little sister, only nine months old, died, because there was
nobody to take care of her, and they threw _her_ into the sea--poor
little thing!"

"Was it not dreadful to see the people dying around you? Did you not
feel frightened for yourself?"

"Well--I don't know--one got used to it--it was nothing but splash,
splash, all day long--first one, then another. There was one Martin on
board, I remember, with a wife and nine children--one of those as sold
his pension: he had fought in Spain with the Duke of Wellington. Well,
first his wife died, and they threw her into the sea; and then _he_
died, and they threw _him_ into the sea; and then the children, one
after t'other, till only two were left alive; the eldest, a girl about
thirteen, who had nursed them all, one after another, and seen them
die--well, _she_ died, and then there was only the little fellow left."

"And what became of him?"

"He went back, as I heard, in the same ship with the captain."

"And did you not think sometimes it might be your turn next."

"No--I didn't; and then I was down with the fever."

"What do you mean by _the fever?_"

"Why, you see, I was looking at some fish that was going by the ship in
shoals, as they call it. It was very pretty, and I never saw anything
like it, and I stood watching over the ship's side all day long. It
poured rain, and I was wet through and through, and felt very cold, and
I went into my berth and pulled the blanket round me, and fell asleep.
After that I had the fever very bad. I didn't know when we landed at
Quebec, and after that I didn't know where we were for five weeks, nor

I assured him that this was only a natural and necessary consequence of
his own conduct, and took the opportunity to explain to him some of
those simple laws by which he held both health and existence, to all
which he listened with an intelligent look, and thanked me cordially,

"Then I wonder I didn't die! and it was a great mercy I didn't."

"I hope you will live to think so, and be thankful to Heaven. And so you
were detained at Quebec?"

"Yes; my father had some money to receive of his pension, but what with
my illness and the expense of living, it soon went; and then he sold his
silver watch, and that brought us on to York--that's Toronto now. And
then there was a schooner provided by Government to take us on board,
and we had rations provided, and that brought us on to Port Stanley, far
below Port Talbot; and then they put us ashore, and we had to find our
way, and pay our way, to Delaware, where our lot of land was: that cost
eight dollars; and then we had nothing left--nothing at all. There were
nine hundred emigrants encamped about Delaware, no better off then

"What did you do then? Had you not to build a house?"

"No; the Government built each family a house, that is to say, a
log-hut, eighteen feet long, with a hole for the chimney; no glass in
the windows, and empty of course; not a bit of furniture, not even a
table or a chair."

"And how did you live?"

"Why, the first year, my father and us, we cleared a couple of acres,
and sowed wheat enough for next year."

"But meantime you must have existed--and without food or money--?"

"O, why we worked meantime on the roads, and got half a dollar a day and

"It must have been rather a hard life?"

"_Hard!_ yes, I believe it was; why, many of them couldn't stand it, no
ways. Some died; and then there were the poor children and the women--it
was very bad for them. Some wouldn't sit down on their land at all; they
lost all heart to see everywhere trees, and trees, and nothing besides.
And then they didn't know nothing of farming--how should they? being
soldiers by trade. There was one Jim Grey, of father's regiment--he
didn't know how to handle his axe, but he could handle his gun well; so
he went and shot deer, and sold them to the others; but one day we
missed him, and he never came back; and we thought the bears had got
him, or may be he cleared off to Michigan--there's no knowing."

"And your father?"

"O, _he_ stuck to his land, and he has now five acres cleared: and he's
planted a bit of a garden, and he has two cows and a calf, and two pigs;
and he's got his house comfortable--and stopped up the holes, and built
himself a chimney."

"That's well; but why are you not with him?"

"O, he married again, and he's got two children, and I didn't like my
stepmother, because she didn't use my sisters well, and so I came away."

"Where are your sisters now?"

"Both out at service, and they get good wages; one gets four, and the
other gets five dollars a month. Then I've a brother younger than
myself, and he's gone to work with a shoe-maker at London. But the man
drinks hard--like a great many here--and I'm afeard my brother will
learn to drink, and that frets me; and he won't come away, though I
could get him a good place any day--no want of places here and good
wages too."

"What wages do you receive?"

"Seven dollars a month and my board. Next month I shall have eight."

"I hope you put by some of your wages?"

"Why, I bought a yoke of steers for my father last fall, as cost me
thirty dollars, but they wont be fit for ploughing these two years."

(I should inform you, perhaps, that a yoke of oxen fit for ploughing
costs about eighty dollars.)

I pointed out to him the advantages of his present situation, compared
with what might have been his fate in the old country, and urged him to
avoid all temptations to drink, which he promised.

"You can read, I suppose?"

He hesitated and looked down. "I can read in the Testament a little. I
never had no other book. But this winter," looking up brightly,--"I
intend to give myself some schooling. A man who has reading and writing,
and a pair of hands, and keeps sober, may make a fortune here--and so
will I, with God's blessing!"

Here he gave his whip a very expressive flourish. We were now near the
summit of a hill, which he called Bear Hill; the people, he said, gave
it that name because of the number of bears which used to be found here.
Nothing could exceed the beauty and variety of the timber trees,
intermingled with most luxuriant underwood, and festooned with the wild
grape and flowering creepers. It was some time, he said, since a bear
had been shot in these woods; but only last spring one of his comrades
had found a bear's cub, which he had fed and taken care of, and had sold
within the last few weeks to a travelling menagerie of wild beasts for
five dollars.

[Footnote 10: Of the commuted pensioners, and their fate in Canada, more
will be said hereafter.]


On reaching the summit of this hill, I found myself on the highest land
I had yet stood upon in Canada, with the exception of Queenston heights.
I stopped the horses and looked around, and on every side, far and near,
east, west, north, and south, it was all forest--a boundless sea of
forest, within whose leafy recesses lay hidden as infinite variety of
life and movement as within the depths of the ocean; and it reposed in
the noontide so still and so vast! _Here_ the bright sunshine rested on
it in floods of golden light; _there_ cloud-shadows sped over its
bosom, just like the effects I remember to have seen on the Atlantic;
and here and there rose wreaths of white smoke from the new clearings
which, collected into little silver clouds, and hung suspended in the
quiet air.

I gazed and meditated till, by a process like that of the Arabian
sorcerer of old, the present fell like a film from my eyes: the future
was before me, with its towns and cities, fields of waving grain, green
lawns and villas, and churches, and temples--turret-crowned: and meadows
tracked by the frequent foot-path; and railroads, with trains of rich
merchandise steaming along:--for all this _will_ be! Will be? _It is_
already in the sight of Him who hath ordained it, and for whom there is
no past nor future: though I cannot behold it with my bodily vision,
even _now_ it is.

But is _that_ NOW better than _this_ present NOW? When these forests,
with all their solemn depth of shade and multitudinous life have fallen
beneath the axe--when the wolf, and bear, and deer are driven from their
native coverts, and all this infinitude of animal and vegetable being
has made way for restless, erring, suffering humanity, will it then be
better? _Better_--I know not; but surely it will be _well_, and right in
His eyes who has ordained that thus the course of things shall run.
Those who see nothing in civilised life but its complicated cares,
mistakes, vanities, and miseries, may doubt this--or despair. For
myself, I am of those who believe and hope; who behold in progressive
civilisation, progressive happiness, progressive approximation to nature
and to nature's God; for are we not in His hands?--and all that He does
is good.

Contemplations such as these were in my mind as we descended the Hill of
Bears, and proceeded through a beautiful plain, sometimes richly wooded,
sometimes opening into clearings and cultivated farms, on which were
usually compact farm-houses, each flanked by a barn three times as large
as the house, till we came on to a place called Five Stakes, where I
found two or three tidy cottages, and procured some bread and milk. The
road here was no longer so good, and we travelled slowly and with
difficulty for some miles. About five o'clock we reached St. Thomas,
one of the prettiest places I had yet seen. Here I found two or three
inns, and at one of them, styled the "Mansion House Hotel," I ordered
tea for myself and good entertainment for my young driver and his
horses, and then walked out.


St. Thomas is situated on a high eminence, to which the ascent is rather
abrupt. The view from it, over a fertile, well settled country, is very
beautiful and cheering. The place bears the christian name of Colonel
Talbot, who styles it his capital, and, from a combination of
advantages, it is rising fast into importance. The climate, from its
high position, is delicious and healthful; and the winters in this part
of the province are milder by several degrees than elsewhere. At the
foot of the cliff, or eminence, runs a deep rapid stream, called the
Kettle Creek[11] (I wish they had given it a prettier name), which,
after a course of eight miles, and turning a variety of saw-mills,
grist-mills, &c., flows into Lake Erie, at Port Stanley, one of the best
harbours on this side of the lake. Here steam-boats and schooners land
their passengers and merchandise, or load with grain, flour, and lumber.
The roads are good all round; and the Talbot road, carried directly
through the town, is the finest in the province. This road runs nearly
parallel with Lake Erie, from thirty miles below Port Stanley, westward
as far as Delaware. The population of St. Thomas is at present rated at
seven hundred, and it has doubled within two years. There are three
churches, one of which is very neat; and three taverns. Two newspapers
are published here, one violently tory, the other as violently radical.
I found several houses building, and, in those I entered, a general air
of cheerfulness and well-being very pleasing to contemplate. There is
here an excellent manufacture of cabinet ware and furniture: some
articles of the black walnut, a tree abounding here, appeared to me more
beautiful in colour and grain than the finest mahogany; and the elegant
veining of the maplewood cannot be surpassed. I wish they were
sufficiently the fashion in England to make the transport worth while.
Here I have seen whole piles, nay, whole forests of such trees, burning

I was very much struck with this beautiful and cheerful little town,
more, I think, than with any place I have yet seen.

By the time my horses were refreshed, it was near seven o clock. The
distance from Port Talbot is about twelve miles, but hearing the road
was good, I resolved to venture. The sky looked turbulent and stormy,
but luckily the storm was moving one way while I was moving another;
and, except a little sprinkling from the tail of a cloud, we escaped
very well.

The road presented on either side a succession of farm-houses and
well-cultivated farms. Near the houses there was generally a patch of
ground planted with Indian corn and pumpkins, and sometimes a few
cabbages and potatoes. I do not recollect to have seen one garden, or
the least attempt to cultivate flowers.

The goodness of the road is owing to the systematic regulations of
Colonel Talbot. Throughout the whole "country" none can obtain land
without first applying to him, and the price and conditions are uniform
and absolute. The lands are divided into lots of two hundred acres, and
to each settler fifty acres are given gratis, and one hundred and fifty
at three dollars an acre. Each settler must clear and sow ten acres of
land, build a house (a log-hut of eighteen feet in length), and
construct one chain of road in front of his house, within three years;
failing in this, he forfeits his deed.

Colonel Talbot does not like gentlemen settlers, nor will he have any
settlements within a certain distance of his own domain. He never
associates with the people except on one grand occasion, the anniversary
of the foundation of his settlement. This is celebrated at St. Thomas by
a festive meeting of the most respectable settlers, and the colonel
himself opens the ball with one of the ladies, generally showing his
taste by selecting the youngest and prettiest.

The evening now began to close in, night came on, with the stars and the
fair young moon in her train. I felt much fatigued, and my driver
appeared to be out in his reckoning--that is, with regard to
distance--for luckily he could not miss the _way_, there being but one.
I stopped a man who was trudging along with an axe on his shoulder, "How
far to Colonel Talbot's?" "About three miles and a half." This was
encouraging; but a quarter of an hour afterwards, on asking the same
question of another, he replied, "About seven miles." A third informed
me that it was about three miles beyond Major Burwell's. The next person
I met advised me to put up at "Waters's," and not think of going any
farther to-night; however, on arriving at Mr. Waters's hotel, I was not
particularly charmed with the prospect of a night's rest within its
precincts. It was a long-shaped wooden house, comfortless in appearance;
a number of men were drinking at the bar, and sounds of revelry issued
from the open door. I requested my driver to proceed, which he did with
all willingness.

We had travelled nearly the whole day through open, well-cleared land,
more densely peopled than any part of the province I had seen since I
left the Niagara district. Suddenly we came upon a thick wood, through
which the road ran due west, in a straight line. The shadows fell deeper
and deeper from the depth of foliage on either side, and I could not see
a yard around, but exactly before me the last gleam of twilight lingered
where the moon was setting. Once or twice I was startled by seeing a
deer bound across the path, his large antlers being for one instant
defined, _pencilled_, as it were, against the sky, then lost. The
darkness fell deeper every moment, the silence more solemn. The
whip-poor-will began his melancholy cry, and an owl sent forth a
prolonged shriek, which, if I had not heard it before, would have
frightened me. After a while my driver stopped and listened, and I could
plainly hear the tinkling of cow-bells, I thought this a good sign, till
the boy reminded me that it was the custom of the settlers to turn their
cattle loose in the summer to seek their own food, and that they often
strayed miles from the clearing.

[Footnote 11: When I remonstrated against this name for so beautiful a
stream, Colonel Talbot told me that his first settlers had found a
kettle on the bank, left by some Indians, and had given the river, from
this slight circumstance, a name which he had not thought it worth while
to alter.]


We were proceeding along our dark path very slowly, for fear of
accidents, when I heard the approaching tread of a horse, and the
welcome sound of a man whistling. The boy hailed him with some
impatience in his voice, "I say!--mister! whereabouts _is_ Colonel

"The Colonel's? why, straight afore you;--follow your nose, you

Here I interposed. "Be so good, friend, as to inform me how far we are
yet from Colonel Talbot's house?"

"Who have you got here?" cried the man in surprise.

"A lady, comed over the sea to visit the Colonel."

"Then," said the man, approaching my carriage--my cart, I should
say--with much respect, "I guess you're the lady that the Colonel has
been looking out for this week past. Why, I've been three times to St.
Thomas's with the team after you!"

"I'm very sorry you've had the trouble!"

"O, no trouble at all--shall I ride back and tell him you're coming?"

This I declined, for the poor man was evidently going home to his

To hear that the formidable Colonel was anxiously expecting me was very
encouraging, and, from the man's description, I supposed that we were
close to the house. Not so; the road, mocking my impatience, took so
many bends, and sweeps, and windings, up hill and down hill, that it was
an eternity before we arrived. The Colonel piques himself exceedingly on
this graceful and picturesque approach to his residence, and not without
reason; but on the present occasion I could have preferred a line more
direct to the line of beauty. The darkness, which concealed its charms,
left me sensible only to its length.

On ascending some high ground, a group of buildings was dimly descried.
And after oversetting part of a snake-fence before we found an entrance,
we drove up to the door. Lights were gleaming in the windows, and the
Colonel sallied forth with prompt gallantry to receive me.

My welcome was not only cordial, but courtly. The Colonel, taking me
under his arm, and ordering the boy and his horses to be well taken
care of, handed me into the hall or vestibule, where sacks of wheat and
piles of sheepskins lay heaped in primitive fashion; thence into a room,
the walls of which were formed of naked logs. Here no fauteuil,
spring-cushioned, extended its comfortable arms--no sofa here
"insidiously stretched out its lazy length;" Colonel Talbot held all
such luxuries in sovereign contempt. In front of a capacious chimney
stood a long wooden table, flanked with two wooden chairs, cut from the
forest in the midst of which they now stood. To one of these the Colonel
handed me, with the air of a courtier, and took the other himself. Like
all men who live out of the world, he retained a lively curiosity as to
what was passing in it, and I was pressed with a profusion of questions
as well as hospitable attentions; but wearied, exhausted, aching in
every nerve, the spirit with which I had at first met him in his own
style, was fast ebbing. I could neither speak nor eat, and was soon
dismissed to repose.

With courteous solicitude, he ushered me himself to the door of a
comfortable, well furnished bed room, where a fire blazed cheerfully,
where female hands had evidently presided to arrange my toilet, and
where female aid awaited me;--so much had the good Colonel been

       *     *     *     *     *


  ---- You shall
  Go forth upon your arduous task alone,
  None shall assist you, none partake your toil,
  None share your triumph! still you must retain
  Some one to trust your glory to--to share
  Your rapture with.        Browning's Paracelsus.

                                                   Port Talbot, July 10.

"Man is, properly speaking, based upon hope. He has no other possession
but hope. This world of his is emphatically the place of hope:"[12] and
more emphatically than of any other spot on the face of the globe, it is
true of this new world of ours, in which I am now a traveller and a
sojourner. This is the land of hope, of faith, aye, and of charity, for
a man who hath not all three had better not come here:--with them he
may, by strength of his own right hand and trusting heart, achieve
miracles: witness Colonel Talbot.

Of the four days in which I have gone wandering and wondering up and
down, let me now tell you something--_all_ I cannot tell you; for the
information I have gained, and the reflections and feelings which have
passed through my mind would fill a volume--and I have little time for

And first of Colonel Talbot himself. This remarkable man is now about
sixty-five, perhaps more, but he does not look so much. In spite of his
rustic dress, his good-humoured, jovial, weather-beaten face, and the
primitive simplicity, not to say rudeness, of his dwelling, he has in
his features, air, and deportment, that _something_ which stamps him
gentleman. And that _something_ which thirty-four years of solitude has
not effaced, he derives, I suppose, from blood and birth, things of more
consequence, when philosophically and philanthropically considered, than
we are apt to allow.

He came out to Upper Canada as aide-de-camp to Governor Simcoe in 1793,
and accompanied the governor on the first expedition he made to survey
the western district, in search (as it was said) of an eligible site for
the new capital he was then projecting. At this time the whole of the
beautiful and fertile region situated between the lakes was a vast
wilderness. It contained not one white settler, except along the
borders, and on the coast opposite to Detroit: a few wandering tribes of
Hurons and Chippewas, and the Six Nations settled on Grand River, were
its only inhabitants.

It was then that the idea of founding a colony took possession of
Colonel Talbot's mind, and became the ruling passion and sole interest
of his future life. I had always heard and read of him, as the
"eccentric" Colonel Talbot. Of his eccentricity I heard much more than
of his benevolence, his invincible courage, his enthusiasm, his
perseverance; but, perhaps, according to the wordly nomenclature, these
qualities come under the general head of "eccentricity," when devotion
to a favourite object cannot possibly be referred to self-interest.

On his return to England, he asked and obtained a grant of 100,000 acres
of land along the shores of Lake Erie, on condition of placing a settler
on every two hundred acres. He came out again in 1802, and took
possession of his domain, in the heart of the wilderness. Of the life he
led for the first sixteen years, and the difficulties and obstacles he
encountered, he drew, in his discourse with me, a strong, I might say a
_terrible_ picture: and observe that it was not a life of wild,
wandering freedom--the life of an Indian hunter, which is said to be so
fascinating that "no man who has ever followed it for any length of
time, _ever_ voluntarily returns to civilised society!"[13] Colonel
Talbot's life has been one of persevering, heroic self-devotion to the
completion of a magnificent plan, laid down in the first instance, and
followed up with unflinching tenacity of purpose. For sixteen years he
saw scarce a human being, except the few boors and blacks employed in
clearing and logging his land: he himself assumed the blanket-coat and
axe, slept upon the bare earth, cooked three meals a day for twenty
woodsmen, cleaned his own boots, washed his own linen, milked his cows,
churned the butter, and made and baked the bread. In this latter branch
of household economy he became very expert, and still piques himself on

To all these heterogeneous functions of sowing and reaping, felling and
planting, frying, boiling, washing and wringing, brewing and baking, he
added another, even more extraordinary;--for many years he solemnised
all the marriages in his district!

While Europe was converted into a vast battle-field, an arena

  "Where distract ambition compassed
  And was encompass'd,"

and his brothers in arms, the young men who had begun the career of life
with him, were reaping bloody laurels, to be gazetted in the list of
killed and wounded, as heroes--then forgotten;--Colonel Talbot, a true
hero after another fashion, was encountering, amid the forest solitude,
uncheered by sympathy, unbribed by fame, enemies far more formidable,
and earning a far purer, as well as a more real and lasting immortality.

Besides natural obstacles, he met with others far more trying to his
temper and patience. His continual quarrels with the successive
governors, who were jealous of the independent power he exercised in his
own territory, are humorously alluded to by Dr. Dunlop.

"After fifteen years of unremitting labour and privation," says the
Doctor, "it became so notorious in the province, that even the executive
government at Toronto became aware that there was such a place as the
Talbot Settlement, where roads were cut and farms in progress; and
hereupon they rejoiced--for it held out to them just what they had long
felt the want of, a well-settled, opened, and cultivated country,
wherein to obtain estates for themselves, their children, born and
unborn, and their whole kith, kin, and allies. When this idea, so
creditable to the paternal feelings of these worthy gentlemen, was
intimated to the Colonel, he could not be brought to see the fitness of
things in an arrangement which would confer on the next generation, or
the next again, the fruits of the labour of the present; and
accordingly, though his answer to the proposal was not couched in terms
quite so diplomatic as might have been wished, it was brief,
soldier-like, and not easily capable of misconstruction; it was in these
words--'I'll be d--d if you get one foot of land here;' and thereupon
the parties joined issue.

"On this, war was declared against him by his Excellency in council, and
every means were used to annoy him here, and misrepresent his
proceedings at home; but he stood firm, and by an occasional visit to
the Colonial Office in England, he opened the eyes of ministers to the
proceedings of both parties, and for a while averted the danger. At
length, some five years ago, finding the enemy was getting too strong
for him, he repaired once more to England, and returned in triumph with
an order from the Colonial Office, that nobody was in any way to
interfere with his proceedings; and he has now the pleasure of
contemplating some hundreds of miles of the best roads in the province,
closely settled on each side by the most prosperous farmers within its
bounds, who owe all they possess to his judgment, enthusiasm, and
perseverance, and who are grateful to him in proportion to the benefits
he has bestowed upon them, though in many instances, sorely against
their will at the time."

The original grant must have been much extended; for the territory now
under Colonel Talbot's management, and bearing the general name of the
Talbot Country, contains, according to the list I have in his own
handwriting, twenty-eight townships, and about 650,000 acres of land, of
which 98,700 are cleared and cultivated. The inhabitants, including the
population of the towns, amount to about 50,000. "You see," said he
gaily, "I may boast, like the Irishman in the farce, of having peopled a
whole country with my own hands."

He has built his house, like the eagle his eyry, on a bold high cliff
overhanging the lake. On the east there is a precipitous descent into a
wild, woody ravine, along the bottom of which winds a gentle stream,
till it steals into the lake: this stream is in winter a raging torrent.
The storms and the gradual action of the waves have detached large
portions of the cliff in front of the house, and with them huge trees.
Along the lake-shore I found trunks and roots of trees half buried in
the sand, or half overflowed with water, which I often mistook for
rocks. I remember one large tree which, in falling headlong, still
remained suspended by its long and strong fibres to the cliff above. Its
position was now reversed: the top hung downwards, shivered and denuded;
the large spread root, upturned, formed a platform, on which new earth
had accumulated, and a new vegetation sprung forth, of flowers, and
bushes, and sucklings. Altogether it was a most picturesque and curious

Lake Erie, as the geography book says, is two hundred and eighty miles
long, and here, at Port Talbot, which is near the centre, about seventy
miles across. The Colonel tells me that it has been more than once
frozen over from side to side; but I do not see how this fact could be
ascertained, as no one has been known to cross to the opposite shore on
the ice. It is true that more ice accumulates in this lake than in any
other of the great lakes, by reason of its shallowness: it can be
sounded through its whole extent, while the other lakes are found in
some parts unfathomable.

But to return to the château. It is a long wooden building, chiefly of
rough logs, with a covered porch running along the south side. Here I
found suspended, among sundry implements of husbandry, one of those
ferocious animals of the feline kind, called here the cat-a-mountain,
and by some the American tiger, or panther, which it more resembles.
This one, which had been killed in its attack on the fold or
poultry-yard, was at least four feet in length, and glared on me from
the rafters above ghastly and horrible. The interior of the house
contains several comfortable lodging-rooms, and one really handsome one,
the dining-room. There is a large kitchen with a tremendously hospitable
chimney; and underground are cellars for storing wine, milk, and
provisions. Around the house stands a vast variety of outbuildings of
all imaginable shapes and sizes, and disposed without the slightest
regard to order or symmetry. One of these is the very log hut which the
Colonel erected for shelter when he first "sat down in the bush,"
four-and-thirty years ago, and which he is naturally unwilling to
remove. Many of these outbuildings are to shelter the geese and poultry,
of which he rears an innumerable quantity. Beyond these is the cliff,
looking over the wide blue lake, on which I have counted six schooners
at a time with their white sails. On the left is Port Stanley. Behind
the house lies an open tract of land, prettily broken and varied, where
large flocks of sheep and cattle are feeding, the whole enclosed by
beautiful and luxuriant woods, through which runs the little creek or
river above mentioned.

The farm consists of six hundred acres; but as the Colonel is not quite
so active as he used to be, and does not employ a bailiff or overseer,
the management is said to be slovenly, and not so productive as it might

He has sixteen acres of orchard-ground, in which he has planted and
reared with success all the common European fruits, as apples, pears,
plums, cherries, in abundance; but what delighted me beyond everything
else, was a garden of more than two acres, very neatly laid out and
enclosed, and in which he evidently took exceeding pride and pleasure;
it was the first thing he showed me after my arrival. It abounds in
roses of different kinds, the cuttings of which he had brought himself
from England in the few visits he had made there. Of these he gathered
the most beautiful buds, and presented them to me with such an air as
might have become Dick Talbot presenting a bouquet to Miss Jennings.[14]
We then sat down on a pretty seat under a tree, where he told me he
often came to meditate. He described the appearance of the spot when he
first came here as contrasted with its present appearance, or we
discussed the exploits of some of his celebrated and gallant ancestors,
with whom my acquaintance was (luckily) almost as intimate as his own.
Family and aristocratic pride I found a prominent feature in the
character of this remarkable man. A Talbot of Malahide, of a family
representing the same barony from father to son for six hundred years,
he set, not unreasonably, a high value on his noble and unstained
lineage; and, in his lonely position, the simplicity of his life and
manners lent to these lofty and not unreal pretensions a kind of
poetical dignity.

I told him of the surmises of the people relative to his early life and
his motives for emigrating, at which he laughed.

"Charlevoix," said he, "was, I believe, the true cause of my coming to
this place. You know he calls this the 'Paradise of the Hurons.' Now I
was resolved to get to paradise by hook or by crook, and so I came

He added, more seriously, "I have accomplished what I resolved to do--it
is done; but I would not, if any one was to offer me the universe, go
through again the _horrors_ I have undergone in forming this
settlement. But do not imagine I repent it; I like my retirement."

He then broke out against the follies, and falsehoods, and restrictions
of artificial life, in bitter and scornful terms; no ascetic monk or
_radical_ philosopher could have been more eloquently indignant.

I said it was granted to few to live a life of such complete retirement,
and at the same time such general utility; in flying from the world, he
had benefited it: and I added, that I was glad to see him so happy.

"Why, yes, I'm very happy here." And then the old man sighed.

I understood that sigh, and in my heart echoed it. No, "it is not good
for man to be alone;" and this law, which the Father of all life
pronounced himself at man's creation, was never yet violated with
impunity. Never yet was the human being withdrawn from, or elevated
above, the social wants and sympathies of his human nature, without
paying a tremendous price for such isolated independence.

With all my admiration for what this extraordinary man has achieved, and
the means, the powers, through which he has achieved it, there mingles a
feeling of commiseration which has more than once brought the tears to
my eyes while listening to him. He has passed his life in worse than
solitude. He will admit no equal in his vicinity. His only intercourse
has been with inferiors and dependents, whose servility he despised, and
whose resistance enraged him--men whose interests rested on his
favour--on his will, from which there was no appeal. Hence despotic
habits, and contempt even for those whom he benefited; hence, with much
natural benevolence and generosity, a total disregard, or rather total
ignorance, of the feelings of others--all the disadvantages, in short,
of royalty, only on a smaller scale. Now, in his old age, where is to
him the solace of age? He has honour, power, obedience; but where are
the love, the troops of friends, which also should accompany old age? He
is alone--a lonely man. His constitution has suffered by the dreadful
toils and privations of his earlier life. His sympathies have had no
natural outlet; his affections have wanted their natural food. He
suffers, I think; and not being given to general or philosophical
reasoning, causes and effects are felt, not known. But he is a great man
who has done great things; and the good which he has done will live
after him. He has planted, at a terrible sacrifice, an enduring name and
fame, and will be commemorated in this "brave new world," this land of
hope, as Triptolemus among the Greeks.

For his indifference or dislike to female society, and his determination
to have no settler within a certain distance of his own residence, I
could easily account when I knew the man; both seemed to me the natural
result of certain habits of life acting upon a certain organisation. He
has a favourite servant, Jeffrey by name, who has served him faithfully
for more than five-and-twenty years, ever since he left off cleaning his
own shoes and mending his own coat. This honest fellow, not having
forsworn female companionship, began to sigh after a wife--

  "A wife! ah! Saint Marie Benedicité,
  How might a man have any adversité
  That hath a wife?"

And, like the good knight in Chaucer, he did

  "Upon his bare knees pray God him to send
  A wife to last unto his life's end."

So one morning he went and took unto himself the woman nearest at
hand--one, of whom we must needs suppose that he chose her for her
virtues, for most certainly it was not for her attractions. The Colonel
swore at him for a fool; but, after a while, Jeffrey, who is a
favourite, smuggled his wife into the house; and the Colonel, whose
increasing age renders him rather more dependent on household help,
seems to endure very patiently this addition to his family, and even the
presence of a white-headed chubby little thing, which I found running
about without let or hindrance.

The room into which I first introduced you, with its rough log-walls, is
Colonel Talbot's library and hall of audience. On leaving my apartment
in the morning, I used to find groups of strange figures lounging round
the door, ragged, black-bearded, gaunt, travel-worn and toil-worn
emigrants, Irish, Scotch, and American, come to offer themselves as
settlers. These he used to call his land-pirates; and curious, and
characteristic, and dramatic beyond description, were the scenes which
used to take place between this grand bashaw of the wilderness and his
hungry, importunate clients and petitioners.

Another thing which gave a singular interest to my conversations with
Colonel Talbot was, the sort of indifference with which he regarded all
the stirring events of the last thirty years. Dynasties rose and
disappeared; kingdoms were passed from hand to hand like wine decanters;
battles were lost and won;--he neither knew, nor heard, nor cared. No
post, no newspaper brought to his forest-hut the tidings of victory and
defeat, of revolutions of empires, "or rumours of unsuccessful and
successful war."

When he first took to the bush, Napoleon was consul; when he emerged
from his solitude, the tremendous game of ambition had been played out,
and Napoleon and his deeds and his dynasty were numbered with the things
o'erpast. With the stream of events had flowed by equally unmarked the
stream of mind, thought, literature--the progress of social
improvement--the changes in public opinion. Conceive what a gulf between
us! but though I could go to him, he could not come to me--my sympathies
had the wider range of the two.

The principal foreign and domestic events of his _reign_ are the last
American war, in which he narrowly escaped being taken prisoner by a
detachment of the enemy, who ransacked his house, and drove off his
horses and cattle; and a visit which he received some years ago from
three young Englishmen of rank and fortune, Lord Stanley, Mr. Stuart
Wortley, and Mr. Labouchere, who spent some weeks with him. These
events, and his voyages to England, seemed to be the epochs from which
he dated. From these occasional flights he returns like an old eagle to
his perch on the cliff, whence he looks down upon the world he has
quitted with supreme contempt and indifference, and around that on which
he has created, with much self-applause and self-gratulation.

[Footnote 12: Vide Sartor Resartus.]

[Footnote 13: Dr. Dunlop.]

[Footnote 14: Dick Talbot married Frances Jennings--la belle Jennings of
De Grammont's Memoirs, and elder sister of the celebrated Duchess of

       *     *     *     *     *


It was not till the sixth day of my sojourn at Port Talbot that the good
Colonel could be persuaded to allow of my departure.

He told me, with good-humoured peremptoriness, that he was the grand
autocrat of the forest, and that to presume to order horses, or take any
step towards departing, without his express permission, was against "his
laws." At last he was so good as to issue his commands--with flattering
reluctance, however--that a vehicle should be prepared, and a trusty
guide provided; and I bade farewell to this extraordinary man with a
mixture of delighted, and grateful, and melancholy feelings not easily
to be described, nor ever forgotten.

My next journey was from Port Talbot to Chatham on the river Thames,
whence it was my intention to cross Lake St. Clair to Detroit, and there
take my chance of a vessel going up Lake Huron to Machinaw. I should,
however, advise any future traveller, not limited to any particular time
or plan of observation, to take the road along the shore of the Lake to
Amherstberg and Sandwich, instead of turning off to Chatham. During the
first day's journey I was promised a good road, as it lay through the
Talbot settlements; what was to become of me the second day seemed a
very doubtful matter.

The best vehicle which the hospitality and influence of Colonel Talbot
could provide was a farmer's cart or team, with two stout horses. The
bottom of the cart was well filled with clean soft straw, on which my
luggage was deposited. A seat was slung for me on straps, and another in
front for the driver, who had been selected from among the most
respectable settlers in the neighbourhood as a fit guide and protector
for a lone woman. The charge for the two days' journey was to be twelve

As soon as I had a little recovered from the many thoughts and feelings
which came over me as we drove down the path from Colonel Talbot's
house, I turned to take a survey of my driver, and from his physiognomy,
his deportment, and the tone of his voice, to divine, if I could, what
chance I had of comfort during the next two days. The survey was, on
the whole, encouraging, though presenting some inconsistencies I could
by no means reconcile. His dress and figure were remarkably neat, though
plain and homely; his broad-brimmed straw hat, encircled with a green
ribbon, was pulled over his brow, and from beneath it peered two
sparkling, intelligent eyes. His accent was decidedly Irish. It was
indeed a brogue as "nate and complate" as ever was sent forth from Cork
or Kerry; but then his face was not an Irish face; its expression had
nothing of the Irish character; the cut of his features, and his manner
and figure altogether in no respect harmonised with his voice and


After proceeding about three miles, we stopped in front of a neat
farmhouse, surrounded with a garden and spacious outbuildings, and forth
came a very pretty and modest-looking young woman, with a lovely child
in her arms, and leading another by the hand. It was the wife of my
driver; and I must confess she did not seem well pleased to have him
taken away from her. They evidently parted with reluctance. She gave him
many special charges to take care of himself, and commissions to execute
by the way. The children were then held up to be kissed heartily by
their father, and we drove off. This little family scene interested me,
and augured well, I thought, for my own chances of comfort and

When we had jogged and jolted on at a reasonable pace for some time, and
I had felt my way sufficiently, I began to make some inquiries into the
position and circumstances of my companion. The first few words
explained those discrepancies in his features, voice, and appearance,
which had struck me.

His grandfather was a Frenchman. His father had married an Irishwoman,
and settled in consequence in the south of Ireland. He became, after
some changes of fortune, a grazier and cattle-dealer; and having
realised a small capital which could not be safely or easily invested in
the old country, he had brought out his whole family, and settled his
sons on farms in this neighbourhood. Many of the first settlers about
this place, generally emigrants of the poorest and lowest description,
after clearing a certain portion of the land, gladly disposed of their
farms at an advanced price; and thus it is that a considerable
improvement has taken place within these few years by the introduction
of settlers of a higher grade, who have purchased half-cleared farms,
rather than waste toil and time on the wild land.

My new friend, John B----, had a farm of one hundred and sixty acres,
for which, with a log-house and barn upon it, he had paid 800 dollars
(about 200_l._); he has now one hundred acres of land cleared and laid
down in pasture. This is the first instance I have met with in these
parts of a grazing farm, the land being almost uniformly arable, and the
staple produce of the country, wheat. He told me that he and his brother
had applied most advantageously their knowledge of the management and
rearing of live stock; he had now thirty cows and eighty sheep. His wife
being clever in the dairy, he was enabled to sell a good deal of butter
and cheese off his farm, which the neighbourhood of Port Stanley enabled
him to ship with advantage. The wolves, he said, were his greatest
annoyance; during the last winter they had carried off eight of his
sheep and thirteen of his brother's flock, in spite of all their

The Canadian wolf is about the size of a mastiff, in colour of a dirty
yellowish brown, with a black stripe along his back, and a bushy tail of
about a foot in length. His habits are those of the European wolf; they
are equally bold, "hungry, and gaunt, and grim,"--equally destructive,
ferocious, and troublesome to the farmer. The Canadian wolves hunt in
packs, and their perpetual howling during the winter nights has often
been described to me as frightful. The reward given by the magistracy
for their destruction (six dollars for each wolf's head) is not enough.
In the United States the reward is fifteen and twenty dollars a head,
and from their new settlements the wolves are quickly extirpated.
_Here_, if they would extend the reward to the Indians, it would be of
some advantage; for at present they never think it worth while to expend
their powder and shot on an animal whose flesh is uneatable, and the
skin of little value; and there can be no doubt that it is the interest
of the settlers to get rid of the wolves by all and any means. I have
never heard of their destroying a man, but they are the terror of the
sheepfold--as the wild cats are of the poultry yard. Bears become
scarcer in proportion as the country is cleared, but there are still a
great number in the vast tracts of forest land which afford them
shelter. These, in the severe winters, advance to the borders of the
settlements, and carry off the pigs and young cattle. Deer still abound,
and venison is common food in the cottages and farmhouses.

My guide concluded his accounts of himself by an eloquent and heartfelt
eulogium on his wife, to whom, as he assured me, "he owed all his _peace
of mind_ from the hour he was married!" Few men, I thought, could say
the same. _She_, at least, is not to be numbered among the drooping and
repining women of Upper Canada; but then she has left no family--no home
on the other side of the Atlantic--all her near relations are settled
here in the neighbourhood.


The road continued very tolerable during the greater part of this day,
running due west, at a distance of about six or ten miles from the shore
of Lake Erie. On either side I met a constant succession of farms
partially cleared, and in cultivation, but no village, town, or hamlet.
One part of the country through which I passed to-day is settled chiefly
by Highlanders, who bring hither all their clannish attachments, and
their thrifty, dirty habits--add also their pride and their honesty. We
stopped about noon at one of these Highland settlements, to rest the
horses and procure refreshments. The house was called Campbell's Inn,
and consisted of a log-hut and a cattle-shed. A long pole, stuck into
the decayed stump of a tree in front of the hut, served for a sign. The
family spoke nothing but Gaelic; a brood of children, ragged, dirty, and
without shoes or stockings (which latter I found hanging against the
wall of the best room, as if for a show), were running about--and all
stared upon me with a sort of half-scared, uncouth curiosity, which was
quite savage. With some difficulty I made my wants understood, and
procured some milk and Indian corn cakes. This family, notwithstanding
their wretched appearance, might be considered prosperous. They have a
property of two hundred acres of excellent land, of which sixty acres
are cleared, and in cultivation: five cows and forty sheep. They have
been settled here sixteen years,--had come out destitute, and obtained
their land gratis. For them, what a change from abject poverty and want
to independence and plenty! But the advantages are all outward; if there
be any inward change, it is apparently retrogradation, not advancement.

I know it has been laid down as a principle, that the more and the
closer men are congregated together, the more prevalent is vice of every
kind; and that an isolated or scattered population is favourable to
virtue and simplicity. It may be so, if you are satisfied with negative
virtues and the simplicity of ignorance. But here, where a small
population is scattered over a wide extent of fruitful country, where
there is not a village or a hamlet for twenty, or thirty, or forty miles
together--where there are no manufactories--where there is almost entire
equality of condition--where the means of subsistence are
abundant--where there is no landed aristocracy--no poor laws, nor poor
rates, to grind the souls and the substance of the people between them,
till nothing remains but chaff,--to what shall we attribute the gross
vices, the profligacy, the stupidity, and basely vulgar habits of a
great part of the people, who know not even how to enjoy or turn to
profit the inestimable advantages around them?--And, alas for them!
there seems to be no one as yet to take an interest about them, or at
least infuse a new spirit into the next generation. In one log-hut in
the very heart of the wilderness, where I might well have expected
primitive manners and simplicity, I found vulgar finery, vanity,
affectation, under the most absurd and disgusting forms, combined with a
want of the commonest physical comforts of life, and the total absence
of even elementary knowledge. In another, I have seen drunkenness,
profligacy, stolid indifference to all religion; and in another, the
most senseless fanaticism. There are people, I know, who think--who
fear, that the advancement of knowledge and civilisation must be the
increase of vice and insubordination; who deem that a scattered
agricultural population, where there is a sufficiency of daily food for
the body; where no schoolmaster interferes to infuse ambition and
discontent into the abject, self-satisfied mind; where the labourer
reads not, writes not, thinks not--only loves, hates, prays, and
toils--that such a state must be a sort of Arcadia. Let them come
here!--there is no march of intellect here!--there is no "schoolmaster
abroad" here! And what are the consequences? Not the most agreeable to
contemplate, believe me.

I passed in these journeys some school-houses built by the way side: of
these, several were shut up for want of schoolmasters; and who that
could earn a subsistence in any other way, would be a schoolmaster in
the wilds of Upper Canada? Ill fed, ill clothed, ill paid, or not paid
at all--boarded at the houses of the different farmers in turn, I found,
indeed, some few men, poor creatures! always either Scotch or Americans,
and totally unfit for the office they had undertaken. Of female teachers
I found none whatever, except in the towns. Among all the excellent
societies in London for the advancement of religion and education, are
there none to send missionaries here?--such missionaries as we want, be
it understood--not sectarian fanatics. Here, without means of
instruction, of social amusement, of healthy and innocent
excitements--can we wonder that whisky and camp-meetings assume their
place, and "season toil" which is unseasoned by anything better?

Nothing, believe me, that you may have heard or read of the frantic
disorders of these Methodist love-feasts and camp-meetings in Upper
Canada can exceed the truth; and yet it is no less a truth that the
Methodists are in most parts the only religious teachers, and that
without them the people were utterly abandoned. What then are our church
and our government about? Here, as in the old country, they are
quarrelling about the tenets to be inculcated, the means to be used: and
so, while the shepherds are disputing whether the sheep are to be fed
on old hay or fresh grass--out of the fold or in the fold--the poor
sheep starve, or go astray.

I supped here on eggs and radishes, and milk and bread. On going to my
room, I found that the door, which had merely a latch, opened into the
road. I expressed a wish to fasten it, on which the good lady of the
house brought a long nail, and thrust it lengthways over the latch,
saying, "That's the way we lock doors in Canada!" The want of a more
secure defence did not trouble my rest, for I slept well till morning.
After breakfast, my guide, who had found what he called a "shake-down"
at a neighbouring farm, made his appearance, and we proceeded.

For the first five or six miles the road continued good, but at length
we reached a point where we had to diverge from the Talbot road, and
turn into what they call a "town line," a road dividing the Howard from
the Harwich township. My companion stopped the team to speak to a young
man who was mixing lime, and as he stood talking to us, I thought I had
never seen a better figure and countenance: his accent was Irish; his
language and manner infinitely superior to his dress, which was that of
a common workman. I soon understood that he was a member of one of the
richest and most respectable families in the whole district, connected
by marriage with my driver, who had been boasting to me of their
station, education, and various attainments. There were many and kind
greetings and inquiries after wives, sisters, brothers, and children.
Towards the conclusion of this family conference, the following dialogue

"I say, how are the roads before us?"

"Pretty bad!" (with an ominous shake of the head.)

"Would we get on at all, do you think?"

"Well, I don't know, but you may."

"If only we a'n't _mired down_ in that big hole up by Harris's, plaze
God, we'll do finely! Have they done anything up there?"

"No, I don't know that they have; but (with a glance and a
good-humoured smile at me) don't be frightened! you have a good stout
team there. I dare say you'll get along--first or last!"

"How are the mosquitoes?"

"Pretty bad too; it is cloudy, and then they are always worse; but there
is some wind, and that's in your favour again. However, you've a long
and hard day's work, and I wish you well through it; if you cannot
manage, come back to _us_--that's all! Good-bye!" And lifting the gay
handkerchief knotted round his head, he bowed us off with the air of a

Thus encouraged, we proceeded; and though I was not _mired down_, nor
yet absolutely eaten up, I suffered from both the threatened plagues,
and that most severely. The road was scarcely passable; there were no
longer cheerful farms and clearings, but the dark pine forest, and the
rank swamp, crossed by those terrific corduroy paths (my bones ache at
the mere recollection!) and deep holes and pools of rotted vegetable
matter, mixed with water, black, bottomless sloughs of despond! The very
horses paused on the brink of some of these mud-gulfs, and trembled ere
they made the plunge downwards. I set my teeth, screwed myself to my
seat, and commended myself to Heaven--but I was well nigh dislocated! At
length I abandoned my seat altogether, and made an attempt to recline on
the straw at the bottom of the cart, disposing my cloaks, carpet-bags,
and pillow, so as to afford some support--but all in vain; myself and
all my well-contrived edifice of comfort were pitched hither and
thither, and I expected at every moment to be thrown over headlong;
while to walk, or to escape by any means from my disagreeable situation,
was as impossible as if I had been in a ship's cabin in the midst of a
rolling sea.

But the worst was yet to come. At the entrance of a road through the

  If road that might be called where road was none

we stopped a short time to gain breath and courage, and refresh the poor
horses before plunging into a forest of about twenty miles in extent.

The inn--the only one within a circuit of more than five-and-thirty
miles, presented the usual aspect of these forest inns; that is, a rude
log-hut, with one window and one room, answering all purposes, a lodging
or sleeping place being divided off at one end by a few planks; outside,
a shed of bark and boughs for the horses, and a hollow trunk of a tree
disposed as a trough. Some of the trees around it were in full and
luxuriant foliage; others, which had been girdled, stood bare and
ghastly in the sunshine. To understand the full force of the scripture
phrase, "desolate as a lodge in a wilderness," you should come here! The
inmates, from whom I could not obtain a direct or intelligible answer to
any question, continued during the whole time to stare upon me with
stupid wonder. I took out a card to make a sketch of the place. A man
stood near me, looking on, whose appearance was revolting beyond
description--hideous, haggard and worn, sinewy and fierce and squalid.
He led in one hand a wild-looking urchin of three or four years old; in
the other he was crushing a beautiful young pigeon, which panted and
struggled within his bony grasp in agony and terror. I looked on it,

"Don't hurt it!"

He replied with a grin, and giving the wretched bird another squeeze,
"No, no, I won't hurt it."

"Do you live here?"

"Yes, I have a farm hard by--in the bush here."

"How large is it?"

"One hundred and forty acres."

"How much cleared?"

"Five or six acres--thereabout."

"How long have you been on it?"

"Five years."

"And only five acres cleared? That is very little in five years. I have
seen people who had cleared twice that quantity of land in half the

He replied, almost with fierceness, "Then they had money, or friends, or
hands to help them: I have neither. I have in this wide world only
myself! and set a man with only a pair of hands at one of them big trees
there!--see what he'll make of it! You may swing the axe here from
morning to night for a week before you let the daylight in upon you."

"You are right!" I said, in compassion and self-reproach, "and I was
wrong! pray excuse me!"

"No offence."

"Are you from the old country?"

"No, I was _raised_ here."

"What will you do with your pigeon there?"

"O, it will do for the boy's supper, or may be he may like it best to
play with."

I offered to redeem its life at the price of a shilling, which I held
out. He stretched forth immediately one of his huge hands and eagerly
clutched the shilling, at the same moment opening the other, and
releasing his captive; it fluttered for a moment helplessly, but soon
recovering its wings, wheeled round our heads, and then settled in the
topmost boughs of a sugar-maple. The man turned away with an exulting
laugh, thinking, no doubt, that he had the best of the bargain--but upon
this point we differed.

       *     *     *     *     *

Turning the horses' heads again westward, we plunged at once into the
deep forest, where there was absolutely no road, no path, except that
which is called a _blazed_ path, where the trees marked on either side
are the only direction to the traveller. How savagely, how solemnly wild
it was! So thick was the overhanging foliage, that it not only shut out
the sunshine, but almost the daylight; and we travelled on through a
perpetual gloom of vaulted boughs and intermingled shade. There were no
flowers here--no herbage. The earth beneath us was a black, rich
vegetable mould, into which the cart-wheels sank a foot deep; a rank,
reedy grass grew round the roots of the trees, and sheltered
rattlesnakes and reptiles. The timber was all hard timber, walnut,
beech, and bass-wood, and oak and maple of most luxuriant growth; here
and there the lightning had struck and shivered one of the loftiest of
these trees, riving the great trunk in two, and flinging it horizontally
upon its companions. There it lay, in strangely picturesque fashion,
clasping with its huge boughs their outstretched arms as if for support.
Those which had been hewn to open a path lay where they fell, and over
their stumps and roots the cart had to be lifted or dragged. Sometimes a
swamp or morass lay in our road, partly filled up or laid over with
trunks of fallen trees, by way of bridge.

As we neared the limits of the forest, some new clearings broke in upon
the solemn twilight monotony of our path: the aspect of these was almost
uniform, presenting an opening of felled trees of about an acre or two;
the commencement of a log-house; a patch of ground surrounded by a
snake-fence, enclosing the first crop of wheat, and perhaps a little
Indian corn; great heaps of timber-trees and brushwood laid together and
burning; a couple of oxen, dragging along another enormous trunk to add
to the pile. These were the general features of the picture, framed in,
as it were, by the dark mysterious woods. Here and there I saw a few
cows, but no sheep. I remember particularly one of these clearings,
which looked more desolate than the rest; there was an unfinished
log-house, only one half of it roofed in and habitable, and this
presented some attempt at taste, having a small rustic porch or portico,
and the windows on either side framed. No ground was fenced in, and the
newly-felled timber lay piled in heaps ready to burn; around lay the
forest, its shadows darkening, deepening as the day declined. But what
rivetted my attention was the light figure of a female, arrayed in a
silk gown and a handsome shawl, who was pacing up and down in front of
the house, with a slow and pensive air. She had an infant lying on her
arm, and in the other hand she waved a green bough, to keep off the
mosquitoes. I wished to stop--to speak, though at the hazard of
appearing impertinent; but my driver represented so strongly the danger
of being benighted within the verge of the forest, that I reluctantly
suffered him to proceed,

  "And oft look'd back upon that vision fair,
  And wondering ask'd, whence and how came it there?"

At length we emerged from the forest-path into a plain, through which
ran a beautiful river (my old acquaintance the Thames), "winding at its
own sweet will," and farmhouses with white walls and green shutters were
scattered along its banks, and cheerful voices were heard, shouts of
boys at play, sounds of labour and of life; and over all lay the last
glow of the sinking sun. How I blessed the whole scene in my heart! Yes,
I can well conceive what the exulting and joyous life of the hunter may
be, roaming at large and independent through these boundless forests;
but, believe me, that to be dragged along in a heavy cart through their
impervious shades, tormented by mosquitoes, shut in on every side from
the light and from the free air of heaven, is quite another thing; and
its effect upon me, at least, was to bring down the tone of the mind and
reflections to a gloomy, inert, vague resignation, or rather dejection,
which made it difficult at last to speak. The first view of the
beautiful little town of Chatham made my sinking spirits bound like the
sight of a friend. There was, besides, the hope of a good inn; for my
driver had cheered me on during the last few miles by a description of
"Freeman's Hotel," which he said was one of the best in the whole
district. Judge then of my disappointment to learn that Mr. Freeman, in
consequence of the "high price of wheat," could no longer afford to take
in hungry travellers, and had "no accommodation." I was driven to take
refuge in a miserable little place, where I fared as ill as possible. I
was shown to a bedroom without chair or table; but I was too utterly
beaten down by fatigue and dejection, too sore in body and spirit, to
remonstrate, or even to stir hand or foot. Wrapping my cloak round me, I
flung myself on the bed, and was soon in a state of forgetfulness of all
discomforts and miseries. Next morning I rose refreshed and able to
bestir myself; and by dint of bribing, and bawling, and scolding, and
cajoling, I at length procured plenty of hot and cold water, and then a
good breakfast of eggs, tea, and corn-cakes;--and then I set forth to

       *     *     *     *     *


  At Chatham, in the Western District, and on board the
  steam-boat, between Chatham and Detroit. July 12, 13.

I can hardly imagine a more beautiful or more fortunate position for a
new city than this of Chatham (you will find it on the map just upon
that neck of land between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie). It is
sufficiently inland to be safe, or easily secured against the sudden
attacks of a foreign enemy; the river Thames is navigable from the mouth
up to the town, a distance of sixteen miles, for all kinds of lake
craft, including steamers and schooners of the largest class. Lake St.
Clair, into which the Thames discharges itself, is between Lake Erie and
Lake Huron; the banks are formed of extensive prairies of exhaustless
fertility, where thousands of cattle might roam and feed at will. As a
port and depôt for commerce, its position and capabilities can hardly be
surpassed, while as an agricultural country it may be said literally to
flow with milk and honey. A rich soil, abundant pasture, no rent, no
taxes--what is wanting here but more intelligence and a better
employment of capital to prevent the people from sinking into brutified
laziness, and stimulate to something like mental activity and
improvement? The profuse gifts of nature are here running to waste,
while hundreds and thousands in the old country are trampling over each
other in the eager, hungry conflict for daily food.

This land of Upper Canada is in truth the very paradise of hope. In
spite of all I see and hear, which might well move to censure, to
regret, to pity,--how much there is in which the trustful spirit may
reasonably rejoice! It would be possible, looking at things under one
aspect, to draw such a picture of the mistakes of the government, the
corruption of its petty agents, the social backwardness and moral
destitution of the people, as would shock you, and tempt you to regard
Canada as a place of exile for convicts. On the other hand, I could,
without deviating from the sober and literal truth, give you such vivid
pictures of the beauty and fertility of this land of the west, of its
glorious capabilities for agriculture and commerce, of the goodness and
kindliness and resources of poor, much-abused human nature, as
developed amid all the crushing influences of oppression, ignorance, and
prejudice; and of the gratitude and self-complacency of those who have
exchanged want, servitude, and hopeless toil at home, for plenty and
independence and liberty here,--as would transport you in fancy into an
earthly elysium. Thus, as I travel on, I am disgusted, or I am
enchanted; I despair or I exult by turns; and these inconsistent and
apparently contradictory emotions and impressions I set down as they
arise, leaving you to reconcile them as well as you can, and make out
the result for yourself.


It is seldom that in this country the mind is ever carried backward by
associations or recollections of any kind. Horace Walpole said of Italy,
that it was "a land in which the memory saw more than the eye," and in
Canada hope must play the part of memory. It is all the difference
between seed-time and harvest. We are rich in anticipation, but poor in
possession--more poor in memorials. Some vague and general traditions,
of no interest whatever to the ignorant settlers, do indeed exist, of
horrid conflicts between the Hurons and the Iroquois, all along these
shores, in the time and before the time of the French dominion; of the
enterprise and daring of the early fur traders; above all, of the
unrequited labours and sacrifices of the missionaries, whether Jesuits,
or Moravians, or Methodists, some of whom perished in tortures; others
devoted themselves to the most horrible privations--each for what he
believed to be the cause of truth, and for the diffusion of the light of
salvation; none near to applaud the fortitude with which they died, or
to gain hope and courage from their example. During the last war between
Great Britain and the United States[15]--that war, in its commencement
dishonourable to the Americans, in its conclusion shameful to the
British, and in its progress disgraceful and demoralising to both;--that
war, which began and was continued in the worst passions of our nature,
cupidity and vengeance;--which brought no advantage to any one human
being--not even the foolish noise and empty glory which wait oftentimes
on human conflicts; a war scarce heard of in Europe, even by the mother
country, who paid its cost in millions, and in the blood of some of her
best subjects; a war obscure, fratricidal, and barbarous, which has left
behind no effect but a mutual exasperation and distress along the
frontiers of both nations, and a hatred which, like hatred between near
kinsmen, is more bitter and irreconcilable than any hostility between
the mercenary armies of rival nations; for here, not only the two
governments quarrelled, but the people, their institutions, feelings,
opinions, prejudices, local and personal interests, were brought into
collision;--during this vile, profitless, and unnatural war, a battle
was fought near Chatham, called by some the battle of the Thames, and by
others the battle of the Moravian towns, in which the Americans, under
General Harrison, beat General Proctor with considerable loss. But it is
chiefly worthy of notice, as the last scene of the life of Técumseh, a
Shawanee chief, of whom it is possible you may not have heard, but who
is the historical hero of these wild regions. Some American writers call
him the "Indian Napoleon;" both began their plans of policy and conquest
about the same time, and both about the same time terminated their
career, the one by captivity, the other by death. But the genius of the
Indian warrior and his exploits were limited to a narrow field along the
confines of civilisation, and their record is necessarily imperfect. It
is clear that he had entertained the daring and really magnificent plan
formerly embraced by Pontiac--that of uniting all the Indian tribes and
nations in a league against the whites. That he became the ally of the
British was not from friendship to us, but hatred to the Americans, whom
it was his first object to repel from any further encroachments on the
rights and territories of the Red men--in vain! These attempts of a
noble and a fated race, to oppose, or even to delay for a time, the
rolling westward of the great tide of civilisation, are like efforts to
dam up the rapids of Niagara. The moral world has its laws, fixed as
those of physical nature. The hunter must make way before the
agriculturist, and the Indian must learn to take the bit between his
teeth, and set his hand to the ploughshare, or _perish_. As yet I am
inclined to think that the idea of the Indians becoming what _we_ call
a civilised people seems quite hopeless; those who entertain such
benevolent anticipations should come here, and behold the effect which
three centuries of contact with the whites have produced on the nature
and habits of the Indian. The benevolent theorists in England should
come and see with their own eyes that there is a bar to the civilisation
of the Indians, and the increase or even preservation of their numbers,
which no power can overleap. Their own principle, that "the Great Spirit
did indeed create both the red man and the white man, but created them
essentially different in nature and manners," is not, perhaps, far from
the truth.

[Footnote 15: The war of 1812.]


Take, for instance, the following scene, as described with great naïveté
by one of the Moravian missionaries. After a conference with some of the
Delaware chief men, in which they were informed that these missionaries
had come to teach them a better and purer religion, of which the one
fundamental principle, leading to eternal salvation, was belief in the
Redeemer, and atonement through his blood for the sins of all
mankind--all which was contained in the book which he held in his
hand,--"Wangoman, a great chief and medicine-man among them, rose to
reply. He began by tracing two lines on the ground, and endeavoured to
explain that there were two ways which led alike to God and to
happiness, the way of the Red man, and the way of the White man, but the
way of the Red man, he said, was the straighter and the shorter of the

The missionary here interposed, and represented that God himself had
descended on earth to teach men the _true_ way. Wangoman declared that
"he had been intimately acquainted with God for many years, and had
never heard that God became a man and shed his blood, and therefore the
God of whom Brother Zeisberger preached could not be the true God, or
he, Wangoman, would have been made acquainted with the circumstance."

The missionary then declared, "in the power of the spirit, that the God
in whom Wangoman and his Indians believed was no other than the devil,
the father of lies." Wangoman replied in a very moderate tone, "I
cannot understand your doctrine; it is quite new and strange to me. If
it be true," he added, "that the Great Spirit came down into the world,
became a man and suffered so much, I assure you the Indians are not in
fault, but the white men alone. God has given us the beasts of the
forest for food, and our employment is to hunt them. We know nothing of
your book--we cannot learn it; it is much too difficult for an Indian to

Brother Zeisberger replied, "I will tell you the reason of it. Satan is
the prince of darkness: where he reigns all is dark, and he dwells in
you--therefore you can comprehend nothing of God and his word; but when
you return from the evil of your ways, and come as a wretched lost
sinner to Jesus Christ, it may be that he will have mercy upon you. Do
not delay therefore; make haste and save your poor souls!" &c.

I forbear to repeat the rest, because it would seem as if I intended to
turn it into ridicule, which Heaven knows I do not; for it is of far too
serious import. But if it be in this style that the simple and sublime
precepts of Christianity are first presented to the understanding of the
Indians, can we wonder at the little progress hitherto made in
converting them to the truth? And with regard to all attempts to
civilise them, what should the red man see in the civilisation of the
white man which should move him to envy or emulation, or raise in his
mind a wish to exchange his "own unshackled life, and his innate
capacities of soul," for our artificial social habits, our morals, which
are contradicted by our opinions, and our religion, which is violated
both in our laws and our lives? When the good missionary said, with
emphasis, that there was no hope for the conversion of the Indians but
in removing them as far as possible from all intercourse with Europeans,
he spoke a terrible truth, confirmed by all I see and hear--by the
opinion of every one I have spoken to, who has ever had any intercourse
with these people. It will be said, as it has often been said, that
_here_ it is the selfishness of the white man which speaks; that it is
for his interest, and for his wordly advantage, that the red man should
be removed out of his way, and be thrust back from the extending limits
of civilisation--even like these forests, which fall before us, and
vanish from the earth, leaving for a while some decaying stumps and
roots over which the plough goes in time, and no vestige remains to say
that here they _have been_. True; it is for the advantage of the
European agriculturist or artisan, that the hunter of the woods, who
requires the range of many hundred square miles of land for the adequate
support of a single family, should make way for populous towns, and
fields teeming with the means of subsistence for thousands. There is no
denying this; and if there be those who think that in the present state
of things the interests of the red man and the white man can ever be
blended, and their natures and habits brought to harmonise, then I
repeat, let them come here, and behold and see the heathen and the
so-called Christian placed in near neighbourhood and comparison, and
judge what are the chances for both! Wherever the Christian comes, he
brings the Bible in one hand, disease, corruption, and the accursed
fire-water, in the other; or flinging down the book of peace, he boldly
and openly proclaims that might gives right, and substitutes the sabre
and the rifle for the slower desolation of starvation and whisky.

Every means hitherto provided by the Canadian government for the
protection of the Indians against the whites has failed. Every
prohibition of the use or sale of ardent spirits among them has proved a
mere mockery. The refuse of the white population along the back
settlements have no perception of the genuine virtues of the Indian
character. They see only their inferiority in the commonest arts of
life; their subjection to our power. They contemn them, oppress them,
cheat them, corrupt their women, and deprave them by the means and
example of drunkenness. The missionaries alone have occasionally
succeeded in averting or alleviating these evils, at least in some
degree; but their influence is very, very limited. The chiefs and
warriors of the different tribes are perfectly aware of the monstrous
evils introduced by the use of ardent spirits. They have held councils,
and made resolutions for themselves and their people to abstain from
their use; but the very first temptation generally oversets all these
good resolves. My Moravian friend described this intense passion for
intoxicating liquors with a sort of awe and affright, and attributed it
to the direct agency of the devil. Another missionary relates that soon
after the Delaware Indians had agreed among themselves to reject every
temptation of the kind, and punish those who yielded to it, a white
dealer in rum came among them, and placing himself in the midst of one
of their villages, with a barrel of spirits beside him, he introduced a
straw into it, and with many professions of civility and friendship to
his Indian friends, he invited every one to come and take a suck through
the straw _gratis_. A young Indian approached with a grave and pensive
air and slow step, but suddenly turning round, he ran off precipitately
as one terrified. Soon after he returned, he approached yet nearer, but
again ran off in the same manner as before. The third time he suffered
himself to be persuaded by the white man to put his lips to the straw.
No sooner had he tasted of the fiery drink, than he offered all his
wampum for a dram; and subsequently parted with everything he possessed,
even his rifle and his blanket, for more.


I have another illustrative anecdote for you, which I found among a
number of documents, submitted to the society established at Toronto,
for converting and civilising the Indians. There can be no doubt of its
truth, and it is very graphically told. The narrator is a travelling
schoolmaster, who has since been taken into the service of the society,
but whose name I have forgotten.

"In the winter of 1832, I was led, partly by business and partly by the
novelty of the enterprise, to walk from the Indian Establishment of
Coldwater, to the Sault-Saint-Marie, a distance of nearly four hundred

"The lake was well frozen, and the ice moderately covered with snow;
with the assistance of snow-shoes, we were enabled to travel a distance
of fifty miles in a day; but my business not requiring any expedition, I
was tempted to linger among the thousand isles of Lake Huron. I hoped to
ascertain some facts with regard to the real mode of life of the
Indians frequenting the north side of the lake. With this view, I made
a point of visiting every wigwam that we approached, and could, if it
were my present purpose, detail many interesting pictures of extreme
misery and destitution. Hunger, filth, and ignorance, with an entire
absence of all knowledge of a Supreme Being, here reign triumphant.[16]

"Near the close of a long and fatiguing day, my Indian guide came on the
recent track of a single Indian, and, anxious to please me, pursued it
to the head of a very deep bay. We passed two of those holes in the ice
which the Indians use for fishing, and at one of them noticed, from the
quantity of blood on the snow, that the spear had lately done
considerable execution. At a very short distance from the shore, the
track led us past the remains of a wigwam, adjoining to which we
observed a large canoe and a small hunting canoe, both carefully laid up
for the winter. After a considerable ascent, a narrow winding path
brought us into a deep hollow, about four hundred yards from the bay.
Here, surrounded on every side by hills, on the margin of one of the
smallest inland lakes, we came to a wigwam, the smoke from which showed
us that it was occupied. The path for a considerable distance was lined
on both sides by billets of firewood, and a blanket cleaner than usual,
suspended before the entrance, gave me at the very first a favourable
opinion of the inmates. I noticed on the right hand a dog-train, and on
the left, two pair of snow-shoes, and two barrels of salt-fish. The
wigwam was of the square form, and so large, that I was surprised to
find it occupied by two Indians only--a young man and his wife.

"We were soon made welcome, and I had leisure to look round me in
admiration of the comfort displayed in the arrangement of the interior.
A covering of fresh branches of the young hemlock-pine was neatly spread
all round. In the centre of the right hand side, as we entered, the
master of the lodge was seated on a large mat; his wife occupied the
station at his left hand; good and clean mats were spread for myself and
my guide--my own being opposite the entrance, and my guide occupying the
remaining side of the wigwam. Three dogs, well conditioned, and of a
large breed, lay before the fire.--So much for the live stock. At the
back of the wife, I saw, suspended near the door, a tin can full of
water, with a small tin cup; next to it, a mat bag filled with tin
dishes, and wooden spoons of Indian manufacture; above that were several
portions of female dress--ornamented leggings, two showy shawls, &c. A
small chest and bag were behind her on the ground. At the back of the
Indian were suspended two spear heads, of three prongs each; an American
rifle, an English fowling-piece, and an Indian chief piece, with shot
and bullet pouches, and two powder horns; there were also a highly
ornamented capuchin, and a pair of new blanket leggings. The corner was
occupied by a small red-painted chest; a mokkuk of sugar was placed in
the corner on my right hand, and a barrel of flour, half empty, on the
right hand of my Indian; and between that and the door were hanging
three large salmon trout, and several pieces of dried deer flesh. In the
centre, as usual, we had a bright blazing fire, over which three kettles
gave promise of one of the comforts of weary travellers. Our host had
arrived but a few minutes before us, and was busied in pulling off his
moccasins and blankets when we entered. We had scarcely time to remove
our leggings and change our moccasins, preparatory to a full enjoyment
of the fire, when the Indian's wife was prepared to set before us a
plentiful mess of boiled fish; this was followed in a short space by
soup made of deer flesh and Indian corn, and our repast terminated with
hot cakes baked in the ashes, in addition to the tea supplied from our
own stores.

"Before daylight on the following morning we were about to set out, but
could not be allowed to depart without again partaking of refreshment.
Boiled and broiled fish were set before us, and to my surprise, the
young Indian, before partaking of it, knelt to pray aloud. His prayer
was short and fervent, and without that whining tone in which I had been
accustomed to hear the Indians address the Deity. It appeared to
combine the manliness and humility which one would naturally expect to
find in an address spoken from the heart, and not got up for theatrical

"On taking our departure, I tried to scan the countenance of our host,
and I flatter myself I could not mistake the marks of unfeigned pleasure
at having exercised the feelings of hospitality, mixed with a little
pride in the display of the riches of his wigwam.

"You may be sure I did not omit the opportunity of diving into the
secret of all his comfort and prosperity. It could not escape
observation that here was real civilisation, and I anxiously sought for
some explanation of the difference between the habits of this Indian and
his neighbours. The story was soon told:--He had been brought up at the
British settlement on Drummond Island, where, when a child, he had, in
frequent conversations, but in no studied form, heard the principles of
religion explained, and he had been told to observe the sabbath, and to
pray to the Almighty. Industry and prudence had been frequently
enjoined, and, above all things, an abhorrence of ardent spirits. Under
the influence of this wholesome advice, his hunting, fishing, and
sugar-making had succeeded to such an extent, as to provide him with
every necessary and many luxuries. He already had abundance, and still
retained some few skins, which he hoped, during the winter, to increase
to an amount sufficient to purchase him the indulgence of a barrel of
pork, and additional clothing for himself and his wife.

"Further explanation was unnecessary, and the wearisomeness of this
day's journey was pleasingly beguiled by reflections on the simple means
by which a mind, yet in a state of nature, may be saved from
degradation, and elevated to the best feelings of humanity.

"Shall I lift the same blanket after the lapse of eighteen months?--The
second summer has arrived since my last visit; the wigwam on the Lake
shore, the fit residence of summer, is unoccupied--the fire is still
burning in the wigwam of winter; but the situation, which has warmth and
quiet to recommend it at that season when cold is our greatest enemy,
is now gloomy and dark. Wondering what could have induced my friends to
put up with the melancholy of the deep forest, instead of the sparkling
of the sun-lit wave, I hastened to enter. How dreadful the change! There
was, indeed, the same Indian girl that I had left healthy, cheerful,
contented, and happy; but whisky, hunger, and distress of mind had
marked her countenance with the furrows of premature old age. An infant,
whose aspect was little better than its mother's, was hanging at her
breast, half dressed and filthy. Every part of the wigwam was ruinous
and dirty, and, with the exception of one kettle, entirely empty. Not
one single article of furniture, clothing, or provision remained. Her
husband had left in the morning to go out to fish, and she had not moved
from the spot; this I thought strange, as his canoe and spear were on
the beach. In a short time he returned, but without any food. He had,
indeed, set out to fish, but had lain down to sleep in the bush, and had
been awakened by his dog barking on our arrival. He appeared worn down
and helpless both in body and mind, and seated himself in listless
silence in his place in the wigwam.

"Producing pork and flour from my travelling stores, I requested his
wife to cook them. They were prepared, and I looked anxiously at the
Indian, expecting to hear his accustomed prayer. He did not move. I
therefore commenced asking a blessing, and was astonished to observe him
immediately rise and walk out of the wigwam.

"However, his wife and child joined us in partaking of the food, which
they ate voraciously. In a little time the Indian returned and lay down.
My curiosity was excited, and although anxious not to distress his
feelings, I could not avoid seeking some explanation of the change I
observed. It was with difficulty I ascertained the following facts:--

"On the opening of the spring of 1833, the Indian having got a
sufficiency of furs for his purpose, set off to a distant trading post
to make his purchase. The trader presented him with a plug of tobacco
and a pipe on his entrance, and offered him a glass of whisky, which he
declined; the trader was then occupied with other customers, but soon
noticed the respectable collection of furs in the pack of the poor
Indian. He was marked as his victim, and not expecting to be able to
impose upon him unless he made him drunk, he determined to accomplish
this by indirect means.

"As soon as the store was clear of other customers, he entered into
conversation with the Indian, and invited him to join him in drinking a
glass of cider, which he unhesitatingly accepted; the cider was mixed
with brandy, and soon began to affect the mind of the Indian; a second
and a third glass were taken, and he became completely intoxicated. In
this state the trader dealt with him; but it was not at first that even
the draught he had taken could overcome his lessons of prudence. He
parted with only one skin; the trader was, therefore, obliged to
continue his contrivances, which he did with such effect, that for three
weeks the Indian remained eating, drinking, and sleeping in his store.
At length all the fur was sold; and the Indian returned home, with only
a few ribbons and beads, and a bottle of whisky. The evil example of the
husband, added to vexation of mind, broke the resolution of the wife,
and she, too, partook of the accursed liquor. From this time there was
no change. The resolution of the Indian once broken, his pride of
spirit, and consequently his firmness were gone; he became a confirmed
drinker,--his wife's and his own ornamented dresses, and at length all
the furniture of his wigwam, even the guns and traps on which his
hunting depended, were all sold to the store for whisky. When I arrived,
they had been two days without food, and the Indian had not energy to
save himself and his family from starvation.

"All the arguments that occurred to me I made use of to convince the
Indian of his folly, and to induce him even now to begin life again, and
redeem his character. He heard me in silence. I felt that I should be
distressing them by remaining all night, and prepared to set out again,
first giving to the Indian a dollar, desiring him to purchase food with
it at the nearest store, and promising shortly to see him again.

"I had not proceeded far on my journey, when it appeared to me, that by
remaining with them for the night, and in the morning renewing my
solicitations to them, I might assist still more to effect a change. I
therefore turned back, and in about two hours arrived again at the
wigwam. The Indian had set off for the store, but had not returned. His
wife still remained seated where I left her, and during the whole night
(the Indian never coming back) neither moved nor raised her head.
Morning came; I quickly despatched breakfast, and leaving my baggage,
with the assistance of my guide set out for the trader's store. It was
distant about two miles. I inquired for the Indian. He came there the
evening before with a dollar: he purchased a pint of whisky, for which
he paid half a dollar, and with the remainder bought six pounds of
flour. He remained until he had drunk the whisky, and then requested to
have the flour exchanged for another pint of whisky. This was done, and
having consumed that also, he was so "stupidly drunk," (to use the words
of the trader,) that it was necessary to shut him out of the store on
closing it for the night. Search was immediately made for him, and at
the distance of a few yards he was found lying on his face dead."

[Footnote 16: We should perhaps read, "An entire absence of all
knowledge of a Supreme Being, as revealed to us in the gospel of
Christ;" for I never heard of any tribe of north-west Indians, however
barbarous, who had not the notion of a God (the Great Spirit), and of a
future life.]

       *     *     *     *     *


That the poor Indians to whom reserved lands have been granted, and who,
on the faith of treaties, have made their homes and gathered themselves
into villages on such lands, should, whenever it is deemed expedient, be
driven out of their possessions, either by purchase, or by persuasion,
or by force, or by measures which include all three, and sent to seek a
livelihood in distant and strange regions--as in the case of these
Delawares--is horrible, and bears cruelty and injustice on the face of
it. To say that they cannot exist in amicable relation with the whites,
without deprivation of their morals, is a fearful imputation on us as
Christians;--but thus it is. And I do wish that those excellent and
benevolent people who have taken the cause of the aborigines to heart,
and are making appeals in their behalf to the justice of the government
and the compassion of the public, would, instead of theorising in
England, come out here and behold the actual state of things with their
own eyes--and having seen all, let them say _what_ is to be done, and
what chances exist, for the independence, and happiness, and morality of
a small remnant of Indians residing on a block of land, six miles
square, surrounded on every side by a white population. To insure the
accomplishment of those benevolent and earnest aspirations, in which so
many good people indulge, what is required? what is expected? Of the
white men such a pitch of lofty and self-sacrificing virtue, of humane
philosophy and christian benevolence, that the future welfare of the
wronged people they have supplanted shall be preferred above their own
immediate interest--nay, their own immediate existence: of the red man,
that he shall forget the wild hunter blood flowing through his veins,
and take the plough in hand, and wield the axe and the spade instead of
the rifle and the fishspear! Truly they know not what they ask, who ask
this; and among all those with whom I have conversed--persons familiar
from thirty to forty years together with the Indians and their mode of
life--I never heard but one opinion on the subject. Without casting the
slightest imputation on the general honesty of intention of the
missionaries and others delegated and well paid by various societies to
teach and protect the Indians, still I will say that the enthusiasm of
some, the self-interest of others, and an unconscious mixture of pious
enthusiasm and self-interest in many more, render it necessary to take
their testimony with some reservation; for often with them "the wish is
father to the thought" set down; and feeling no lack of faith in their
cause or in themselves, they look for miracles, such as waited on the
missions of the apostles of old. But in the mean time, and by human
agency, what is to be done? Nothing so easy as to point out evils and
injuries, resulting from foregone events, or deep-seated in natural and
necessary causes, and lament over them with resistless eloquence in
verse and prose, or hold them up to the sympathy and indignation of the
universe; but let the real friends of religion, humanity, and the poor
Indians, set down a probable and feasible remedy for their wrongs and
miseries; and follow it up, as the advocates for the abolition of the
slave-trade followed up their just and glorious purpose. With a definite
object and plan, much might be done; but mere declamation against the
evil does little good. The people who propose remedies, forget that
there are two parties concerned. I remember to have read in some of the
early missionary histories, that one of the Jesuit fathers, (Father le
Jeune), full of sympathy and admiration for the noble qualities and
lofty independence of the converted Indians, who could not and would not
work, suggested the propriety of sending out some of the French
peasantry to work and till the ground for them, as the only means of
keeping them from running off to the woods. A doubtful sort of
philanthropy, methinks! but it shows how _one-sided_ a life's devotion
to one particular object will make even a benevolent and a just man.


Higher up, on the river Thames, and above the Moravian settlements, a
small tribe of the Chippewa nation has been for some time located. They
have apparently attained a certain degree of civilisation, live in
log-huts instead of bark wigwams, and have, from necessity, turned their
attention to agriculture. I have now in my pocket-book an original
document sent up from these Indians to the Indian agency at Toronto. It
runs thus:

"We, the undersigned chiefs of the Chippewa Indians of Colborne on the
Thames, hereby request Mr. Superintendent Clench to procure for us--

"One yoke of working oxen.

"Six ploughs.

"Thirty-three tons of hay.

"One hundred bushels of oats.

"The price of the above to be deducted from our land-payments."

Signed by ten chiefs, or, more properly, chief men, of the tribe, of
whom one, the Beaver, signs his name in legible characters: the others,
as is usual with the Indians, affix each their _totem_, (crest or
sign-manual,) being a rude scratch of a bird, fish, deer, &c. Another of
these papers, similarly signed, contains a requisition for working tools
and mechanical instruments of various kinds. This looks well, and it
_is_ well; but what are the present state and probable progress of this
Chippewa settlement? Why, one half the number at least are half-caste,
and as the white population closes and thickens around them, we shall
see in another generation or two none of entire Indian blood; they will
become, at length, almost wholly amalgamated with the white people. Is
this _civilising the Indians_?[17] I should observe, that when an Indian
woman gives herself to a white man, she considers herself as his wife to
all intents and purposes. If forsaken by him, she considers herself as
injured, not disgraced. There are great numbers of white settlers and
traders along the borders living thus with Indian women. Some of these
have been persuaded by the missionaries or magistrates to go through the
ceremony of marriage; but the number is few in proportion.

You must not imagine, after all I have said, that I consider the Indians
as an inferior race, merely because they have no literature, no
luxuries, no steam-engines; nor yet, because they regard our superiority
in the arts with a sort of lofty indifference, which is neither contempt
nor stupidity, look upon them as being beyond the pale of our
sympathies. It is possible I may, on a nearer acquaintance, change my
opinion, but they do strike me as an _untamable_ race. I can no more
conceive a city filled with industrious Mohawks and Chippewas, than I
can imagine a flock of panthers browsing in a penfold.

The dirty, careless habits of the Indians, while sheltered only by the
bark-covered wigwam, matter very little. Living almost constantly in the
open air, and moving their dwellings perpetually from place to place,
the worst effects of dirt and negligence are neither perceived nor
experienced. But I have never heard of any attempt to make them
stationary and congregate in houses, that has not been followed by
disease and mortality, particularly among the children; a natural result
of close air, confinement, heat, and filth. In our endeavours to
civilise the Indians, we have not only to convince the mind and change
the habits, but to overcome a certain physical organisation to which
labour and constraint and confinement appear to be fatal. This cannot be
done in less than three generations, if at all, in the unmixed race; and
meantime--they perish!

[Footnote 17: The Indian village of Lorette, near Quebec, which I
visited subsequently, is a case in point. Seven hundred Indians, a
wretched remnant of the Huron tribe, had once been congregated there
under the protection of the Jesuits, and had always been cited as
examples of what might be accomplished in the task of conversion and
civilisation. When I was there, the number was under two hundred; many
of the huts deserted, the inhabitants having fled to the woods and taken
up the hunter's life again; in those who remained, there was scarce a
trace of native Indian blood.]

       *     *     *     *     *


It is time, however, that I should introduce you to our party on board
the little steam-boat, which is now puffing, and snorting, and gliding
at no rapid rate over the blue tranquil waters of Lake St. Clair.[18]
First, then, there are the captain, and his mate or steersman, two young
men of good manners and appearance; one English--the other Irish; one a
military, the other a naval officer: both have land, and are near
neighbours up somewhere by Lake Simcoe; but both being wearied out by
three years' solitary life in the bush, they have taken the steam-boat
for this season on speculation, and it seems likely to answer. The boat
was built to navigate the ports of Lake Huron from Penetanguishine, to
Goderich and St. Joseph's Island, but there it utterly failed. It is a
wretched little boat, dirty and ill contrived. The upper deck, to which
I have fled from the close hot cabin, is an open platform, with no
defence or railing around it, and I have here my establishment--a chair,
a little table, with pencil and paper, and a great umbrella; a gust of
wind or a pitch of the vessel would inevitably send me sliding
overboard. The passengers consist of my acquaintance, the Moravian
missionary, with a family of women and children (his own wife and the
relatives of his assistant Vogler), who are about to emigrate with the
Indians beyond the Missouri. These people speak a dialect of German
among themselves, being descended from the early German Moravians. I
find them civil, but neither prepossessing nor intelligent; in short, I
can make nothing of them; I cannot extract an idea beyond eating,
drinking, dressing, and praying; nor can I make out with what feelings,
whether of regret, or hope, or indifference, they contemplate their
intended exile to the far, far west. Meantime the children squeal, and
the women chatter incessantly.

We took in at Chatham a large cargo of the usual articles of exportation
from Canada to the United States, viz. barrels of flour, sacks of grain,
and emigrants proceeding to Michigan and the Illinois. There are on
board, in the steerage, a great number of poor Scotch and Irish of the
lowest grade, and also one large family of American emigrants, who have
taken up their station on the deck, and whose operations amuse me
exceedingly. I wish I could place before you this very original ménage,
even as it is before me now while I write. Such a group could be
encountered nowhere on earth, methinks, but here in the west, or among
the migratory Tartar hordes of the east.

They are from Vermont, and on their way to the Illinois, having been
already eleven weeks travelling through New York and Upper Canada. They
have two waggons covered in with canvass, a yoke of oxen, and a pair of
horses. The chief or patriarch of the set is an old Vermont farmer,
upwards of sixty at least, whose thin shrewd face has been burnt to a
deep brick-dust colour by the sun and travel, and wrinkled by age or
care into a texture like that of tanned sail-canvass--(the simile
nearest to me at this moment). The sinews of his neck and hands are like
knotted whipcord; his turned-up nose, with large nostrils, snuffs the
wind, and his small light blue eyes have a most keen, cunning
expression. He wears a smockfrock over a flannel shirt, blue woollen
stockings, and a broken pipe stuck in his straw hat, and all day long he
smokes or chews tobacco. He has with him fifteen children of different
ages by three wives. The present wife, a delicate, intelligent,
care-worn woman, seems about thirty years younger than her helpmate. She
sits on the shaft of one of the waggons I have mentioned, a baby in her
lap, and two of the three younger children crawling about her feet. Her
time and attention are completely taken up in dispensing to the whole
brood, young and old, rations of food, consisting of lard, bread of
Indian corn, and pieces of sassafras root. The appearance of all (except
the poor anxious mother) is equally robust and cheerful, half-civilised,
coarse, and by no means clean: all are barefooted except the two eldest
girls, who are uncommonly handsome, with fine dark eyes. The eldest son,
a very young man, has been recently married to a very young wife, and
these two recline together all day, hand in hand, under the shade of a
sail, neither noticing the rest nor conversing with each other, but, as
it seems to me, in silent contentment with their lot. I found these
people, most unlike others of their class I have met with before,
neither curious nor communicative, answering to all my questions and
advances with cautious monosyllables, and the old man with even laconic
rudeness. The contrast which the gentle anxious wife and her baby
presented to all the others, interested me; but she looked so
overpowered by fatigue, and so disinclined to converse, that I found no
opportunity to satisfy my curiosity without being impertinently
intrusive; so, after one or two ineffectual advances to the shy, wild
children, I withdrew, and contented myself with observing the group at a

The banks of the Thames are studded with a succession of farms,
cultivated by the descendants of the early French settlers--precisely
the same class of people as the _Habitans_ in Lower Canada. They go on
exactly as their ancestors did a century ago, raising on their rich
fertile lands just sufficient for a subsistence, wholly uneducated,
speaking only a French patois, without an idea of advance or improvement
of any kind; submissive to their priests, gay, contented, courteous, and
apparently retaining their ancestral tastes for dancing, singing, and

In the midst of half-dilapidated, old-fashioned farm-houses, you could
always distinguish the priest's dwelling, with a flower-garden in front,
and the little chapel or church surmounted by a cross,--both being
generally neat, clean, fresh-painted, and forming a strange contrast
with the neglect and slovenliness around.

Ague prevails very much at certain seasons along the banks of the river,
and I could see by the manner in which the houses are built, that it
overflows its banks annually; it abounds in the small fresh-water turtle
(the Terrapin): every log floated on the water, or muddy islet, was
covered with them.

We stopped half-way down the river to take in wood. Opposite to the
landing-place stood an extensive farmhouse, in better condition than any
I had yet seen: and under the boughs of an enormous tree, which threw an
ample and grateful shade around, our boat was moored. Two Indian boys,
about seven or eight years old, were shooting with bow and arrows at a
mark stuck up against the huge trunk of the tree. They wore cotton
shirts, with a crimson belt round the waist ornamented with beads, such
as is commonly worn by the Canadian Indians; one had a gay handkerchief
knotted round his head, from beneath which his long black hair hung in
matted elf locks on his shoulders. The elegant forms, free movements,
and haughty indifference of these Indian boys, were contrasted with the
figures of some little dirty, ragged Canadians, who stood staring upon
us with their hands in their pockets, or importunately begging for
cents. An Indian hunter and his wife, the father and mother of the boys,
were standing by, and at the feet of the man a dead deer lay on the
grass. The steward of the boat was bargaining with the squaw for some
venison, while the hunter stood leaning on his rifle, haughty and
silent. At the window of the farmhouse sat a well-dressed female,
engaged in needlework. After looking up at me once or twice as I stood
upon the deck gazing on this picture--just such a one as Edwin Landseer
would have delighted to paint--the lady invited me into her house; an
invitation I most gladly accepted. Everything within it and around it
spoke riches and substantial plenty; she showed me her garden, abounding
in roses, and an extensive orchard, in which stood two Indian wigwams.
She told me that every year families of Chippewa hunters came down from
the shore of Lake Huron, and encamped in her orchard, and those of her
neighbours, without asking permission. They were perfectly inoffensive,
and had never been known to meddle with her poultry, or injure her
trees. "They are," said she, "an honest, excellent people; but I must
shut the gates of my orchard upon them to-night--for this bargain with
your steward will not conclude without whisky, and I shall have them all
_ivres mort_ before to-morrow morning."

[Footnote 18: Most of the small steam-boats on the American lakes have
high-pressure engines, which make a horrible and perpetual snorting like
the engine on a railroad.]

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                      Detroit, at night.

I passed half an hour in pleasant conversation with this lady, who had
been born, educated, and married in the very house in which she now
resided. She spoke English well and fluently, but with a foreign accent,
and her deportment was frank and easy, with that sort of graceful
courtesy which seems inherent in the French manner, or used to be so. On
parting, she presented me with a large bouquet of roses, which has
proved a great delight, and served all the purposes of a fan. Nor should
I forget that in her garden I saw the only humming-birds I have yet seen
in Canada: there were two lovely little gem-like creatures disporting
among the blossoms of the scarlet-bean. They have been this year less
numerous than usual, owing to the lateness and severity of the spring.

The day has been most intolerably hot; even on the lake there was not a
breath of air. But as the sun went down in his glory, the breeze
freshened, and the spires and towers of the city of Detroit were seen
against the western sky. The schooners at anchor, or dropping into the
river--the little canoes flitting across from side to side--the lofty
buildings,--the enormous steamers--the noisy port, and busy streets, all
bathed in the light of a sunset such as I had never seen, not even in
Italy--almost turned me giddy with excitement. I have emerged from the
solitary forests of Canada to be thrown suddenly into the midst of
crowded civilised life; and the effect for the present is a nervous
flutter of the spirits which banishes sleep and rest; though I have got
into a good hotel, (the American,) and have at last, after some
trouble, obtained good accommodation.

                                                     Detroit, June ----.

The roads by which I have at length reached this beautiful little city
were not, certainly, the smoothest and the easiest in the world; nor can
it be said of Upper Canada, as of wisdom, "that all her ways are ways of
pleasantness, and her paths are paths of peace." On the contrary, one
might have fancied oneself in the road to paradise for that matter. It
was difficult, and narrow; and foul, and steep enough to have led to the
seventh heaven; but in heaven I am not yet--

       *     *     *     *     *

Since my arrival at Detroit, some malignant planet reigns in place of
that favourable and guiding star which has hitherto led me so deftly on
my way,

  "Through brake, through brier,
  Through mud, through mire."

Here, where I expected all would go so well, every thing goes wrong, and
cross, and contrary.

A severe attack of illness, the combined effect of heat, fatigue, and
some deleterious properties in the water at Detroit, against which
travellers should be warned, has confined me to my room for the last
three days. This _mal-à-propos_ indisposition has prevented me from
taking my passage in the great steamer which has just gone up Lake
Huron; and I must now wait here six days longer, till the next boat,
bound for Mackinaw and Chicago, comes up Lake Erie from Buffalo. What is
far worse, I have lost, for the time being, the advantage of seeing and
knowing Daniel Webster, and of hearing a display of that wonderful
eloquence which they say takes captive all ears, and hearts, and souls.
He has been making public speeches here, appealing to the people against
the money transactions of the government; and the whole city has been in
a ferment. He left Detroit two days after my arrival, to my no small
mortification. I had letters for him; and it so happens that several
others to whom I had also letters have fled from the city on summer
tours, or to escape the heat. Some have gone east, some west; some up
the lakes, some down the lakes. So I am abandoned to my own resources,
in a miserable state of languor, lassitude, and weakness.

It is not, however, the first time I have had to endure sickness and
solitude together in a strange land; and, the worst being over, we must
needs make the best of it, and send the time away as well as we can.

Of all the places I have yet seen in these far western regions, Detroit
is the most interesting. It is, moreover, a most ancient and venerable
place, dating back to the dark, immemorial ages, i.e. almost a century
and a quarter ago! and having its history and antiquities, and
traditions and heroes, and epochs of peace and war. No place in the
United States presents such a series of events interesting in
themselves, and permanently affecting, as they occurred, both its
progress and prosperity. Five times its flag has changed; three
different sovereignties have claimed its allegiance; and, since it has
been held by the United States, its government has been thrice
transferred: twice it has been besieged by the Indians, once captured in
war, and once burned to the ground: truly a long list of events for a
young city of a century old! Detroit may almost rival her old grandam
Quebec, who sits bristling defiance on the summit of her rocky height,
in warlike and tragic experience.

Can you tell me why we gave up this fine and important place to the
Americans, without leaving ourselves even a fort on the opposite shore?
Dolts and blockheads as we have been in all that concerns the partition
and management of these magnificent regions, now that we have ignorantly
and blindly ceded whole countries, and millions and millions of square
miles of land and water to our neighbours, I am told that we are likely
to quarrel and go to war about a partition line through the barren
tracts of the east! Well, let our legislators look to it! Colonel Talbot
told me that when he took a map, and pointed out to one of the English
commissioners the foolish bargain they had made, the real extent, value,
and resources of the countries ceded to the United States, the man
covered his eyes with his clenched hands, and burst into tears.

The position of Detroit is one of the finest imaginable. It is on a
strait between Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, commanding the whole
internal commerce of these great "successive seas." Michigan, of which
it is the capital, being now received into the Union, its importance,
both as a frontier town and a place of trade, increases every day.

The origin of the city was a little palisadoed fort, erected here, in
1702, by the French under La Motte Cadillac, to defend their fur trade.
It was then called Fort Portchartrain. From this time till 1760 it
remained in possession of the French, and continued to increase slowly.
So late as 1721, Charlevoix speaks of the vast herds of buffaloes
ranging the plains west of the city. Meantime, under the protection of
the fort, the settlement and cultivation of the neighbouring districts
went on, in spite of the attacks of some of the neighbouring tribes of
Indians, particularly the Ottagamies, who, with the Iroquois, seem to
have been the only decided and irreconcilable enemies whom the French
found in this province. The capture of Quebec, and the death of Wolfe,
being followed by the cession of the whole of the French territory in
North America to the power of Great Britain, Detroit, with all the other
trading posts in the west, was given up to the English. It is curious
that the French submitted to this change of masters more easily than the
Indians, who were by no means inclined to exchange the French for the
English alliance. "Whatever may have been the cause," says Governor
Cass, "the fact is certain, that there is in the French character a
peculiar adaptation to the habits and feelings of the Indians; and to
this day the period of French domination is the era of all that is happy
in Indian reminiscences."

The conciliating manners of the French towards the Indians, and the
judgment with which they managed all their intercourse with them, has
had a permanent effect on the minds of those tribes who were in
friendship with them. At this day, if the British are generally
preferred to the Americans, the French are always preferred to either. A
Chippewa chief, addressing the American agent at the Sault S^{te.}
Marie, so late as 1826, thus fondly referred to the period of the French
dominion:--"When the Frenchmen arrived at these Falls, they came and
kissed us. They called us children; and we found them fathers. We lived
like brethren in the same lodge; and we had always wherewithal to clothe
us. They never mocked at our ceremonies, and they never molested the
places of our dead. Seven generations of men have passed away, but we
have not forgotten it. Just, very just, were they towards us!"[19]

The discontent of the Indian tribes upon the transfer of the forts and
trading posts into the possession of the British, showed itself early,
and at length gave rise to one of the most prolonged and savage of all
the Indian wars, that of Pontiac, in 1763.

[Footnote 19: Vide Historical Sketches of Michigan.]


Of this Pontiac you have read, no doubt, in various books of travels and
anecdotes of Indian chiefs. But it is one thing to read of these events
by an English fireside, where the features of the scene--the forest
wilds echoing to the war-whoop--the painted warriors--the very words
scalping, tomahawking, bring no definite meaning to the mind, only a
vague horror;--and quite _another_ thing to recall them here on the
spot, arrayed in all their dread yet picturesque reality. Pontiac is the
hero _par excellence_ of all these regions; and in all the histories of
Detroit, when Detroit becomes a great capital of the west, he will
figure like Caractacus or Arminius in the Roman history. The English
contemporaries call him king and emperor of the Indians; but there is
absolutely no sovereignty among these people. Pontiac was merely a war
chief, chosen in the usual way, but exercising a more than usual
influence, not by mere bravery--the universal savage virtue--but by
talents of a rarer kind; a power of reflection and combination rarely
met with in the character of the red warrior. Pontiac was a man of
genius, and would have ruled his fellow-men under any circumstances, and
in any country. He formed a project similar to that which Tecumseh
entertained fifty years later. He united all the north-western tribes of
Ottawas, Chippewas, and Pottowottomies, in one great confederacy against
the British, "the dogs in red coats;" and had very nearly caused the
overthrow, at least the temporary overthrow of our power. He had planned
a simultaneous attack on all the trading posts in the possession of the
English, and so far succeeded that ten of these forts were surprised
about the same time, and all the English soldiers and traders massacred,
while the French were spared. Before any tidings of these horrors and
outrages could reach Detroit, Pontiac was here in friendly guise, and
all his measures admirably arranged for taking this fort also by
stratagem, and murdering every Englishman within it. All had been lost,
if a poor Indian woman, who had received much kindness from the family
of the commandant (Major Gladwyn), had not revealed the danger. I do not
yet quite understand why Major Gladwyn, on the discovery of Pontiac's
treachery, and having him in his power, did not make him and his whole
band prisoners; such a stroke would have ended, or rather it would have
prevented, the war. But it must be remembered that Major Gladwyn was
ignorant of the systematic plan of extermination adopted by Pontiac; the
news of the massacres at the upper forts had not reached him; he knew of
nothing but the attempt on himself, and from motives of humanity or
magnanimity he suffered them to leave the fort and go free. No sooner
were they on the outside of the palisades, than they set up the war-yell
"like so many devils," as a bystander expressed it, and turned and
discharged their rifles on the garrison. The war, thus savagely
declared, was accompanied by all those atrocious barbarities, and turns
of fate, and traits of heroism, and hair-breadth escapes, which render
these Indian conflicts so exciting, so terrific, so picturesque.

Detroit was in a state of siege by the Indians for twelve months, and
gallantly and successfully defended by Major Gladwyn, till relieved by
General Bradstreet.

The first time I was able to go out, my good-natured landlord drove me
himself in his waggon (_Anglicè_, gig), with as much attention and care
for my comfort, as if I had been his near relation. The evening was
glorious; the sky perfectly Italian--a genuine Claude Lorraine sky, that
beautiful intense amber light reaching to the very zenith, while the
purity and transparent loveliness of the atmospheric effects carried me
back to Italy and times long past. I felt it all, as people feel things
after a sharp fit of indisposition, when the nervous system, languid at
once and sensitive, thrills and trembles to every breath of air. As we
drove slowly and silently along, we came to a sluggish, melancholy
looking rivulet, to which the man pointed with his whip. "I expect,"
said he, "you know all about the battle of Bloody Run?"

I was obliged to confess my ignorance, not without a slight shudder at
the hateful, ominous name which sounded in my ear like an epitome of all
imaginable horrors.

This was the scene of a night attack made by three hundred British upon
the camp of the Indians, who were then besieging Detroit. The Indians
had notice of their intention, and prepared an ambush to receive them.
They had just reached the bank of this rivulet, when the Indian foe fell
upon them suddenly. They fought hand to hand, bayonet and tomahawk, in
the darkness of the night. Before the English could extricate
themselves, seventy men and most of the officers fell and were scalped
on the spot. "Them Indians," said my informant, "fought like brutes and
devils" (as most men do, I thought, who fight for revenge and
existence), "and they say the creek here, when morning came, ran red
with blood; and so they call it the Bloody Run."

There certainly is much in a name, whatever Juliet may say, and how much
in fame! There is the brook Sanguinetto, which flows into Lake
Thrasymene,--the meaning and the derivation are the same, but what a
difference in sound! The Sanguinetto! 'tis a word one might set to
music.--_The Bloody Run!_ pah! the very utterance pollutes one's fancy!

And in associations, too, how different, though the circumstances were
not unlike! This Indian Fabius, this Pontiac, wary and brave, and
unbroken by defeat, fighting for his own land against a swarm of
invaders, has had no poet, no historian to immortalise him, else all
this ground over which I now tread had been as _classical_ as the shores
of Thrasymene.

As they have called Tecumseh the Indian Napoleon, they might style
Pontiac the Indian Alexander--I do not mean him of Russia, but the
Greek. Here, for instance, is a touch of magnanimity quite in the
_Alexander-the-great_ style. Pontiac, before the commencement of the
war, had provided for the safety of a British officer, Major Rogers by
name, who was afterwards employed to relieve Detroit, when besieged by
the Indians. On this occasion he sent Pontiac a present of a bottle of
brandy, to show he had not forgotten his former obligations to him.
Those who were around the Indian warrior when the present arrived,
particularly some Frenchmen, warned him not to taste it, as it might be
poisoned. Pontiac instantly took a draught from it, saying, as he put
the bottle to his lips, that "it was not _in the power_ of Major Rogers
to hurt him who had so lately saved his life." I think this story is no
unworthy pendant to that of Alexander and his physician.

But what avails it all! who knows or cares about Pontiac and his

  "Vain was the chief's, the warrior's pride!
  He had no poet--and he died!"

If I dwell on these horrid and obscure conflicts, it is partly to amuse
the languid idle hours of convalescence, partly to inspire you with some
interest for the localities around me:--and I may as well, while the pen
is in my hand, give you the conclusion of the story.

Pontiac carried on the war with so much talent, courage, and resources,
that the British government found it necessary to send a considerable
force against him. General Bradstreet came up here with three thousand
men, wasting the lands of the Miami and Wyandot Indians, "burning their
villages, and destroying their corn-fields;" and I pray you to observe
that in all the accounts of our expeditions against the Indians, as well
as those of the Americans under General Wayne and General Harrison,
mention is made of the destruction of corn-fields (plantations of Indian
corn) to a great extent, which show that _some_ attention must have been
paid to agriculture, even by these wild hunting tribes. I find mention
also of a very interesting and beautiful tradition connected with these
regions. To the east of the Detroit territory, there was settled from
ancient times a band of Wyandots or Hurons, who were called the neutral
nation; they never took part in the wars and conflicts of the other
tribes. They had two principal villages, which were like the cities of
refuge among the Israelites; whoever fled there from an enemy found a
secure and inviolable sanctuary. If two enemies from tribes long at
deadly variance met there, they were friends while standing on that
consecrated ground. To what circumstances this extraordinary institution
owed its existence is not known. It was destroyed after the arrival of
the French in the country--not by them, but by some national and
internal feud.

But to return to Pontiac. With all his talents, he could not maintain a
standing or permanent army, such a thing being contrary to all the
Indian usages, and quite incompatible with their mode of life. His
warriors fell away from him every season, and departed to their hunting
grounds to provide food for their families. The British pressed forward,
took possession of their whole country, and the tribes were obliged to
beg for peace. Pontiac disdained to take any part in these negotiations,
and retired to the Illinois, where he was murdered, from some motive of
private animosity, by a Peoria Indian. The Ottawas, Chippewas, and
Pottowottomies, who had been allied under his command, thought it
incumbent on them to avenge his death, and nearly exterminated the whole
nation of the Peorias--and this was the life and the fall of Pontiac.

The name of this great chief is commemorated in that of a flourishing
village, or rising town, about twenty miles west of Detroit, which is
called _Pontiac_, as one of the townships in Upper Canada is styled
_Tecumseh_: thus literally illustrating those beautiful lines in Mrs.
Sigourney's poem on Indian names:--

  "Their memory liveth on your hills,
    _Their baptism on your shore_;
  Your everlasting rivers speak
    Their dialect of yore!"

For rivers, bearing their old Indian names, we have here the Miami, the
Huron, the Sandusky: but most of the points of land, rivers, islands,
&c., bear the French appellations, as Point Pelée, River au Glaize,
River des Canards, Gros-Isle, &c.

The _mélange_ of proper names in this immediate neighbourhood is
sufficiently curious. Here we have Pontiac, Romeo, Ypsilanti, and Byron,
all within no great distance of each other.

       *     *     *     *     *

Long after the time of Pontiac, Detroit and all the country round it
became the scene of even more horrid and unnatural conflicts between the
Americans and British, during the war of the revolution, in which the
Indians were engaged against the Americans. When peace was proclaimed,
and the independence of the United States recognised by Great Britain,
this savage war on the frontiers still continued, and mutual aggressions
and injuries have left bitter feelings rankling on both sides. Let us
hope that in another generation they may be effaced. For myself, I
cannot contemplate the possibility of another war between the English
and Americans without a mingled disgust and terror, as something cruel,
unnatural, fratricidal. Have we not the same ancestry, the same
father-land, the same language? "Though to drain our blood from out
their being were an aim," they cannot do it! The ruffian refuse of the
two nations--the most ignorant, common-minded, and vulgar among them,
may hate each other, and give each other nicknames--but every year
diminishes the number of such; and while the two governments are shaking
hands across the Atlantic, it were indeed supremely ridiculous if they
were to go to cuffs across the Detroit and Niagara!

       *     *     *     *     *


When the intolerable heat of the day has subsided, I sometimes take a
languid stroll through the streets of the city, not unamused, not
altogether unobserving, though unable to profit much by what I see and
hear. There are many new houses building, and many new streets laid out.
In the principal street, called the Jefferson Avenue, there are rows of
large and handsome brick houses; the others are generally of wood,
painted white, with bright green doors and windows. The footway in many
of the streets is, like that of Toronto, of planks, which for my own
part I like better than the burning brick or stone _pavé_. The crowd of
emigrants constantly pouring through this little city on their way to
the back settlements of the west, and the number of steamers, brigs, and
schooners always passing up and down the lakes, occasion a perpetual
bustle, variety, and animation on the shores and in the streets.
Forty-two steamers touch at the port. In one of the Detroit papers
(there are five or six published here either daily or weekly) I found a
long column, headed Marine Intelligence, giving an account of the
arrival and departure of the shipping. Last year the profits of the
steam-boats averaged seventy or eighty per cent., one with another: this
year it is supposed that many will lose. There are several boats which
ply regularly between Detroit and some of the new-born cities on the
south shore of Lake Erie--Sandusky, Cleveland, Port Clinton, Monroe, &c.
The navigation of the Detroit river is generally open from the beginning
of April to the end of November. In the depth of winter they pass and
repass from the British to the American shore on the ice.

There are some excellent shops in the town, a theatre, and a great
number of taverns and gaming-houses:--also a great number of
booksellers' shops; and I read in the papers long lists of books, newly
arrived and unpacked, which the public are invited to inspect.

Wishing to borrow some books, to while away the long solitary hours in
which I am _obliged_ to rest, I asked for a circulating library, and
was directed to the only one in the place. I had to ascend a steep
staircase--so disgustingly dirty, that it was necessary to draw my
drapery carefully around me to escape pollution. On entering a large
room, unfurnished except with book shelves, I found several men sitting
or rather sprawling upon chairs, and reading the newspapers. The
collection of books was small; but they were not of a common or vulgar
description. I found some of the best modern publications in French and
English. The man--gentleman I should say, for all are gentlemen
here--who stood behind the counter, neither moved his hat from his head,
nor bowed on my entrance, nor showed any officious anxiety to serve or
oblige; but, with this want of what _we_ English consider due courtesy,
there was no deficiency of real civility--far from it. When I inquired
on what terms I might have some books to read, this gentleman desired I
would take any books I pleased, and not think about payment or deposit.
I remonstrated, and represented that I was a stranger at an inn--that my
stay was uncertain, &c.; and the reply was, that from a lady and a
stranger he could not think of receiving remuneration: and then gave
himself some trouble to look out the books I wished for, which I took
away with me. He did not even ask the name of the hotel at which I was
staying; and when I returned the books, persisted in declining all
payment from "a lady and a stranger."

Whatever attention and politeness may be tendered to me, in either
character, as a lady or as a stranger, I am always glad to receive from
any one, in any shape. In the present instance, I could indeed have
dispensed with the _form_: a pecuniary obligation, small or large, not
being much to my taste; but what was meant for courtesy, I accepted
courteously--and so the matter ended.

Nations differ in their idea of good manners, as they do on the subject
of beauty--a far less conventional thing. But there exists luckily a
standard for each, in reference to which we cannot err, and to which the
progress of civilisation will, it is to be hoped, bring us all nearer
and nearer still. For the type of perfection in physical beauty we go to
Greece, and for that of politeness we go to the gospel. As it is
written in a charming little book I have just bought here,--"He who
should embody and manifest the virtues taught in Christ's sermon on the
Mount, would, though he had never seen a drawing-room, nor ever heard of
the artificial usages of society, commend himself to all nations, the
most refined as well as the most simple."[20]

If you look upon the map, you will find that the Detroit River, so
called, is rather a strait or channel about thirty miles in length, and
in breadth from one to two or three miles, dividing the British from the
American shore. Through this channel all the waters of the upper lakes,
Michigan, Superior, and Huron, come pouring down on their way to the
ocean. Here, at Detroit, the breadth of the river does not exceed a
mile. A pretty little steamer, gaily painted, with streamers flying, and
shaded by an awning, is continually passing and repassing from shore to
shore. I have sometimes sat in this ferry-boat for a couple of hours
together, pleased to remain still, and enjoy, without exertion, the cool
air, the sparkling redundant waters, and green islands:--amused,
meantime, by the variety and conversation of the passengers, English
emigrants, and French Canadians; brisk Americans; dark, sad-looking
Indians folded in their blankets; farmers, storekeepers, speculators in
wheat; artisans; trim girls with black eyes and short petticoats,
speaking a Norman _patois_, and bringing baskets of fruit to the Detroit
market; over-dressed, long-waisted, damsels of the city, attended by
their beaux, going to make merry on the opposite shore. The passage is
not of more than ten minutes duration, yet there is a tavern bar on the
lower deck, and a constant demand for cigars, liquors, and mint
julep--by the _men_ only, I pray you to observe, and the Americans
chiefly; I never saw the French peasants ask for drink.

[Footnote 20: "Home," by Miss Sedgwick.]

       *     *     *     *     *


Yesterday and to-day I have passed some hours straying or driving about
on the British shore.

I hardly know how to convey to you an idea of the difference between the
two shores; it will appear to you as incredible as it is to me
incomprehensible. Our shore is said to be the most fertile, and has been
the longest settled; but to float between them (as I did to-day in a
little canoe made of a hollow tree, and paddled by a half-breed imp of a
boy)--to behold on one side a city, with its towers and spires and
animated population, with villas and handsome houses stretching along
the shore, and a hundred vessels or more, gigantic steamers, brigs,
schooners, crowding the port, loading and unloading; all the bustle, in
short, of prosperity and commerce;--and, on the other side, a little
straggling hamlet, one schooner, one little wretched steam-boat, some
windmills, a catholic chapel or two, a supine ignorant peasantry, all
the symptoms of apathy, indolence, mistrust, hopelessness!--can I, can
anyone, help wondering at the difference, and asking whence it arises?
There must be a cause for it surely--but what is it? Does it lie in past
or in present--in natural or accidental circumstances?--in the
institutions of the government, or the character of the people? Is it
remediable? is it a necessity? is it a mystery? what and whence is
it?--Can you tell? or can you send some of our colonial officials across
the Atlantic to behold and solve the difficulty?

The little hamlet opposite to Detroit is called Richmond. I, was sitting
there to-day on the grassy bank above the river resting in the shade of
a tree, and speculating on all these things, when an old French Canadian
stopped near me to arrange something about his cart. We entered
forthwith into conversation; and though I had some difficulty in making
out his _patois_, he understood my French, and we got on very well. If
you would see the two extremes of manner brought into near comparison,
you should turn from a Yankee storekeeper to a French Canadian! It was
quite curious to find in this remote region such a perfect specimen of
an old-fashioned Norman peasant--all bows, courtesy, and good-humour. He
was carrying a cart-load of cherries to Sandwich, and when I begged for
a ride, the little old man bowed and smiled, and poured forth a voluble
speech, in which the words _enchanté! honneur!_ and _madame!_ were all I
could understand; but these were enough. I mounted the cart, seated
myself in an old chair surrounded with baskets heaped with ripe
cherries, lovely as those of Shenstone--

  "Scattering like blooming maid their glances round,
  And must be bought, though penury betide!"

No occasion, however, to risk penury here; for after permission asked,
and granted with a pleasant smile and a hundredth removal of the ragged
hat, I failed not to profit by my situation, and dipped my hand pretty
frequently into these tempting baskets. When the French penetrated into
these regions a century ago, they brought with them not only their
national courtesy, but some of their finest national fruits,--plums,
cherries, apples, pears, of the best quality--excellent grapes, too, I
am told--and all these are now grown in such abundance as to be almost
valueless. For his cart-load of cherries my old man expected a sum not
exceeding two shillings.

Sandwich is about two miles below Detroit. It is the chief place in the
Western District, the county town; yet the population does not much
exceed four hundred.

I had to regret much the absence of Mr. Prince, the great proprietor of
the place, and a distinguished member of our house of assembly, both for
ability and eloquence; but I saw sufficient to convince me that Sandwich
makes no progress. The appearance of the place and people, so different
from all I had left on the opposite side of the river, made me
melancholy, or rather thoughtful. What can be the reason that all
flourishes _there_, and all languishes _here_?

Amherstberg, another village about ten miles farther, contains about six
hundred inhabitants, has a good harbour, and all natural capabilities;
but here also no progress is making. There is a wretched little useless
fort, commanding, or rather _not_ commanding, the entrance to the
Detroit river on our side, and memorable in the history of the last
American war as Fort Malden. There are here a few idle soldiers,
detached from the garrison at Toronto; and it is said that even these
will be removed. In case of an attack or sudden outbreak, all this
exposed and important line of shore is absolutely without defence.[21]

I am hardly competent to give an opinion either way, but it seemeth to
me, in my simple wit, that this is a case in which the government of the
Crown, always supposing it to be wisely and paternally administered,
must be preferable to the interposition of the colonial legislature,
seeing that the interests of the colonists and settlers, and those of
the Indians, are brought into perpetual collision, and that the
colonists can scarcely be trusted to decide in their own case. As it is,
the poor Indian seems hardly destined to meet with _justice_ either from
the legislative or executive power.

[Footnote 21: This was written on the spot. Since the troubles in Upper
Canada, it is understood to be the intention of the governor to fortify
this coast.]


I believe that Sir Francis Head entertained an enthusiastic admiration
for the Indian character, and was sincerely interested in the welfare of
this fated people. It was his deliberate conviction that there was no
salvation for them but in their removal as far as possible from the
influence and dominion of the white settlers; and in this I agree with
his Excellency; but seeing that the Indians are not virtually British
subjects, no measure should be adopted, even for their supposed benefit,
without their acquiescence. They are quite capable of judging for
themselves in every case in which their interests are concerned. The
fault of our executive is, that we acknowledge the Indians our _allies_,
yet treat them, as well as call them, our _children_. They acknowledged
in our government a _father_; they never acknowledged any master but the
"Great Master of Life," and the rooted idea, or rather instinct of
personal and political independence in which every Indian is born or
reared, no earthly power can obliterate from his soul. One of the early
missionaries expresses himself on this point with great _naïveté_. "The
Indians," he says, "are convinced that every man is born free; that no
one has a right to make any attempt upon his personal liberty, and that
nothing can make him amends for its loss." He proceeds--"We have even
had much pains to undeceive those converted to Christianity on this
head, and to make them understand that in consequence of the corruption
of our nature, which is the effect of sin, an unrestrained liberty of
doing evil differs little from the necessity of doing it, considering
the strength of the inclination which carries us to it; and that the law
which restrains us brings us nearer to our first liberty in seeming to
deprive us of it."

That a man, because he has the free use of his will and his limbs, must
therefore necessarily do evil, is a doctrine which the Indian can never
be brought to understand. He is too polite to contradict us, but he
insists that it was made for the pale-faces, who, it may be, are
naturally inclined to all evil; but has nothing to do with the red
skins, whom the Great Spirit created free. "Where the spirit of the Lord
is, there is liberty;"--but about liberty there may be as many differing
notions as about charity.

Of the number here I can form no exact idea; they say there are about
two hundred. At present they are busied in preparations for their voyage
up Lake Huron to the Great Manitoolin Island to receive their annual
presents, and one fleet of canoes has already departed.

       *     *     *     *     *


My business here being not to dream, but to observe, and this morning
being Sunday morning, I crept forth to attend the different church
services merely as a spectator. I went first to the Roman Catholic
church, called the Cathedral, and the largest and oldest in the place.
The Catholic congregation is by far the most numerous here, and is
composed chiefly of the lower classes and the descendants of the French
settlers. On entering the porch, I found a board suspended with written
regulations, to the effect that all Christians, of whatever
denomination, were welcome to enter; but it was requested that all would
observe the outward ceremonial, and that all gentlemen (_tous les
messieurs_) would lay aside their pipes and cigars, take off their hats,
and wipe their shoes. The interior of the church was similar to that of
many other provincial Roman Catholic churches, exhibiting the usual
assortment of wax tapers, gilding, artificial flowers, and daubed
Madonnas. The music and singing were not good. In the course of the
service, the officiating priest walked up and down the aisles, flinging
about the holy water on either side, with a silver-handled brush. I had
my share, though unworthy of this sprinkling, and then left the church,
where the heat and the smell of incense, _et cetera_, were too
overpowering. On the steps, and in the open space before the door, there
was a crowd of peasants, all talking French--laughing, smoking, tobacco
chewing, _et cetera, et cetera_. One or two were kneeling in the porch.
Thence I went to the Methodist chapel, where I found a small
congregation of the lower classes. A very ill-looking man, in comparison
to whom Liston's Mawworm were no caricature, was holding forth in a most
whining and lugubrious tone; the poor people around joined in sobs and
ejaculations, which soon became howling, raving, and crying. In the
midst of this woful assembly I observed a little boy who was grinning
furtively, kicking his heels, and sliding bits of apple from his pocket
into his mouth. Not being able to endure this with proper seriousness, I
left the place.

I then went into the Baptist church, on the opposite side of the road.
It is one of the largest in the town, plain in appearance, but the
interior handsome, and in good taste. The congregation was not crowded,
but composed of most respectable, serious, well-dressed people. As I
entered, the preacher was holding forth on the unpardonable sin, very
incoherently and unintelligibly, but, on closing his sermon, he
commenced a prayer; and I have seldom listened to one more eloquently
fervent. Both the sermon and prayer were extemporaneous. He prayed for
all people, nations, orders and conditions of men throughout the world,
including the king of Great Britain: but the prayer for the president of
the United States seemed to me a little original, and admirably
calculated to suit the two parties who are at present divided on the
merits of that gentleman. The suppliant besought the Almighty, that "if
Mr. Van Buren were a good man, he might be made better; and if a bad
man, he might be speedily regenerated."

I was still in time for the Episcopal church, a very spacious and
handsome building, though "somewhat Gothic." On entering, I perceived at
one glance that the Episcopal church is here, as at New York, the
_fashionable_ church of the place. It was crowded in every part: the
women well dressed--but, as at New York, too much dressed, too fine for
good taste and real fashion. I was handed immediately to the "strangers'
pew," a book put into my hand, and it was whispered to me that the
bishop would preach. Our English idea of the exterior of a bishop is an
old gentleman in a wig and lawn sleeves, both equally _de rigueur_; I
was therefore childishly surprised to find in the Bishop of Michigan a
young man of very elegant appearance, wearing his own fine hair, and in
a plain black silk gown. The sermon was on the well-worn subject of
charity as it consists in _giving_--the least and lowest it may be of
all the branches of charity, though indeed that depends on what we give,
and how we give it. We may give our heart, our soul, our time, our
health, our life, as well as our money; and the greatest of these, as
well as the least, is still but charity. At home I have often thought
that when people gave money they gave counters; here, when people give
money they are really charitable--they give a portion of their time and
their existence, both of which are devoted to money-making.

On closing his sermon, which was short and unexceptionable, the bishop
leaned forward over the pulpit, and commenced an extemporaneous address
to his congregation. I have often had occasion in the United States to
admire the ready, graceful fluency of their extemporaneous speakers and
preachers, and I have never heard anything more eloquent and more
elegant than this address; it was in perfect good taste, besides being
very much to the purpose. He spoke in behalf of the domestic missions of
his diocese. I understood that the missions hitherto supported in the
back settlements are, in consequence of the extreme pressure of the
times, likely to be withdrawn, and the new, thinly-peopled districts
thus left without any ministry whatever. He called on the people to give
their aid towards sustaining these domestic missionaries, at least for a
time, and said, among other things, that if each individual of the
Episcopal church in the United States subscribed one cent. per week for
a year, it would amount to more than 300,000 dollars. This address was
responded to by a subscription on the spot of above 400 dollars--a large
sum for a small town, suffering, like all other places, from the present
commercial difficulties.

       *     *     *     *     *


                                                                July 18.

This evening the Thomas Jefferson arrived in the river from Buffalo, and
starts early to-morrow morning for Chicago. I hastened to secure a
passage as far as the island of Mackinaw: when once there, I must trust
to Providence for some opportunity of going up Lake Huron to the Sault
Ste. Marie to visits my friends the MacMurrays; or down the lake to the
Great Manitoolin Island, where the annual distribution of presents to
the Indians is to take place under the auspices of the governor. If both
these plans--wild plans they are, I am told--should fail, I have only to
retrace my way and come down the lake, as I went up, in a steamer; but
this were horridly tedious and prosaic, and I _hope_ better things. So
_evviva la speranza!_ and Westward Ho!

       *     *     *     *     *

                       On board the Jefferson, River St. Clair, July 19.

This morning I came down early to the steam-boat, attended by a
_cortège_ of amiable people, who had heard of my sojourn at Detroit too
late to be of any solace or service to me, but had seized this last and
only opportunity of showing politeness and good-will. The sister of the
governor, two other ladies, and a gentleman, came on board with me at
that early hour, and remained on deck till the paddles were in motion.
The talk was so pleasant, I could not but regret that I had not seen
some of these kind people earlier, or might hope to see more of them;
but it was too late. Time and steam wait neither for man nor woman: all
expressions of hope and regret on both sides were cut short by the
parting signal, which the great bell swung out from on high; all
compliments and questions "fumbled up into a loose adieu;" and these
new friendly faces--seen but for a moment, then to be lost, yet not
quite forgotten--were soon left far behind.

The morning was most lovely and auspicious; blazing hot though, and
scarce a breath of air; and the magnificent machine, admirably appointed
in all respects, gaily painted and gilt, with flags waving, glided over
the dazzling waters with an easy, stately motion.

I had suffered so much at Detroit, that as it disappeared and melted
away in the bright southern haze like a vision, I turned from it with a
sense of relief, put the past out of my mind, and resigned myself to the
present--like a wise woman--or wiser child.

The captain told me that last season he had never gone up the lakes with
less than four or five hundred passengers. This year, fortunately for my
individual comfort, the case is greatly altered: we have not more than
one hundred and eighty passengers, consequently an abundance of
accommodation, and air, and space--inestimable blessings in this sultry
weather, and in the enjoyment of which I did not sympathise in the
lamentations of the good-natured captain as much as I ought to have


We passed a large and beautifully green island, formerly called Snake
Island, from the immense number of rattlesnakes which infested it. These
were destroyed by turning large herds of swine upon it, and it is now,
in compliment to its last conquerors and possessors, the swinish
multitude, called Hog Island. This was the scene of some most horrid
Indian atrocities during the Pontiac war. A large party of British
prisoners, surprised while they were coming up to relieve Detroit, were
brought over here, and, almost within sight of their friends in the
fort, put to death with all the unutterable accompaniments of savage

I have been told that since this war the custom of torturing persons to
death has fallen gradually into disuse among the Indian tribes of these
regions, and even along the whole frontier of the States an instance
has not been known within these forty years.


Leaving the channel of the river and the cluster of islands at its
entrance, we stretched northward across Lake St. Clair. This beautiful
lake, though three times the size of the Lake of Geneva, is a mere pond
compared with the enormous seas in its neighbourhood. About one o'clock
we entered the river St. Clair, (which, like the Detroit, is rather a
strait or channel than a river,) forming the communication between Lake
St. Clair and Lake Huron. Ascending this beautiful river, we had, on the
right, part of the western district of Upper Canada, and on the left the
Michigan territory. The shores on either side, though low and bounded
always by the line of forest, were broken into bays and little
promontories, or diversified by islands, richly wooded, and of every
variety of form. The bateaux of the Canadians, or the canoes of the
Indians, were perpetually seen gliding among these winding channels, or
shooting across the river from side to side, as if playing at
hide-and-seek among the leafy recesses. Now and then a beautiful
schooner, with white sails, relieved against the green masses of
foliage, passed us, gracefully curtseying and sidling along. Innumerable
flocks of wild fowl were disporting among the reedy islets, and here and
there the great black loon was seen diving and dipping, or skimming over
the waters. As usual, the British coast is here the most beautiful and
fertile, and the American coast the best settled and cleared. Along the
former I see a few isolated log-shanties, and groups of Indian lodges;
along the latter, several extensive clearings, and some hamlets and
rising villages. The facility afforded by the American steam-boats for
the transport of goods and sale of produce, &c., is one reason of this.
There is a boat, for instance, which leaves Detroit every morning for
Fort Gratiot, stopping at the intermediate "landings." We are now moored
at a place called "Palmer's Landing," for the purpose of taking in wood
for the Lake voyage. This process has already occupied two hours, and is
to detain us two more, though there are fourteen men employed in
flinging logs into the wood-hold. Meantime I have been sketching and
lounging about the little hamlet, where there is a good grocery-store, a
sawing-mill worked by steam, and about twenty houses.

I was amused at Detroit to find the phraseology of the people imbued
with metaphors taken from the most familiar mode of locomotion. "Will
you take in wood?" signifies, will you take refreshment? "Is your steam
up?" means, are you ready? The common phrase, "go ahead," has I suppose,
the same derivation. A witty friend of mine once wrote to me not to be
lightly alarmed at the political and social ferments in America, nor
mistake the _whizzing of the safety-valves for the bursting of the


But all this time I have not yet introduced you to my companions on
board; and one of these great American steamers is really a little
world, a little social system in itself, where a near observer of faces
and manners may find endless subjects of observation, amusement, and
interest. At the other end of the vessel we have about one hundred
emigrants on their way to the Illinois and the settlements to the west
of Lake Michigan. Among them I find a large party of Germans and
Norwegians, with their wives and families, a very respectable, orderly
community, consisting of some farmers and some artisans, having with
them a large quantity of stock and utensils--just the sort of people
best calculated to improve and enrich their adopted country, wherever
that may be. Then we have twenty or thirty poor ragged Irish emigrants,
with good-natured faces, and strong arms and willing hearts. Men are
smoking, women nursing, washing, sewing; children squalling and rolling

The ladies' saloon and upper deck exhibit a very different scene; there
are about twenty ladies and children in the cabin and state-rooms, which
are beautifully furnished and carpeted with draperies of blue silk, &c.
On the upper deck, shaded by an awning, we have sofas, rocking-chairs,
and people lounging up and down; some reading, some chattering, some
sleeping: there are missionaries and missionaries' wives, and officers
on their way to the garrisons on the Indian frontier; and settlers, and
traders, and some few nondescripts--like myself.


Also among the passengers I find the Bishop of Michigan. The governor's
sister, Miss Mason, introduced us at starting, and bespoke his good
offices for me. His conversation has been a great resource and interest
for me during the long day. He is still a young man, who began life as a
lawyer, and afterwards from a real vocation adopted his present
profession: his talents and popularity have placed him in the rank he
now holds. He is on his way to visit the missions and churches in the
back settlements, and at Green Bay. His diocese, he tells me, extends
about eight hundred miles in length and four hundred in breadth. And
then if you think of the scattered population, the _sort_ of population,
the immensity of this spiritual charge, and the amount of labour and
responsibility it necessarily brings with it, are enough to astound one.
The amount of power is great in proportion; and the extensive moral
influence exercised by such a man as this Bishop of Michigan struck me
very much. In conversing with him and the missionaries on the spiritual
and moral condition of his diocese, and these newly settled regions in
general, I learned many things which interested me; and there was one
thing discussed which especially surprised me. It was said that two
thirds of the misery which came under the immediate notice of a popular
clergyman, and to which he was called to minister, arose from the
infelicity of the conjugal relations; there was no question here of open
immorality and discord, but simply of infelicity and unfitness. The same
thing has been brought before me in every country, every society in
which I have been a sojourner and an observer; but I did not look to
find it so broadly placed before me here in America, where the state of
morals, as regards the two sexes, is comparatively pure; where the
marriages are early, where conditions are equal, where the means of
subsistence are abundant, where the women are much petted and considered
by the men--too much so.

For a result then so universal, there must be a cause or causes as
universal, not depending on any particular customs, manners, or
religion, or political institutions. And what are these causes? I
cannot understand why an evil everywhere acknowledged and felt is not
remedied somewhere, or discussed by some one, with a view to a
remedy;--but no, it is like putting one's hand into the fire, only to
touch upon it; it is the universal bruise, the putrefying sore, on which
you must not lay a finger, or your patient (that is, society) cries out
and resists, and, like a sick baby, scratches and kicks its physician.

Strange, and passing strange, that the relation between the two sexes,
the passion of love in short, should not be taken into deeper
consideration by our teachers and our legislators. People educate and
legislate as if there was no such thing in the world; but ask the
priest, ask the physician--let _them_ reveal the amount of moral and
physical results from this one cause. Must love be always discussed in
blank verse, as if it were a thing to be played in tragedies or sung in
songs--a subject for pretty poems and wicked novels, and had nothing to
do with the prosaic current of our every-day existence, our moral
welfare and eternal salvation? Must love be ever treated with
profaneness, as a mere illusion? or with coarseness, as a mere impulse?
or with fear, as a mere disease? or with shame, as a mere weakness? or
with levity, as a mere accident? Whereas, it is a great mystery and a
great necessity, lying at the foundation of human existence, morality,
and happiness; mysterious, universal, inevitable as death. Why then
should love be treated less seriously than death? It is as serious a
thing. Love and Death, the alpha and omega of human life, the author and
finisher of existence, the two points on which God's universe turns;
which He, our Father and Creator, has placed beyond our
arbitration--beyond the reach of that election and free will which He
has left us in all other things!


Death must come, and love must come; but the state in which they find
us?--whether blinded, astonished, and frightened, and ignorant, or, like
reasonable creatures, guarded, prepared, and fit to manage our own
feelings?--_this_, I suppose, depends on ourselves; and for want of such
self-management and self-knowledge, look at the evils that
ensue!--hasty, improvident, unsuitable marriages; repining, diseased,
or vicious celibacy; irretrievable infamy; cureless insanity:--the
death that comes early, and the love that comes late, reversing the
primal laws of our nature.

It is of little consequence how unequal the conventional difference of
rank, as in Germany--how equal the condition, station, and means, as in
America,--if there be inequality between the sexes; and if the sentiment
which attracts and unites them to each other, and the contracts and
relations springing out of this sentiment, be not equally well
understood by both, equally sacred with both, equally binding on both.

       *     *     *     *     *


At Detroit I had purchased Miss Sedgwick's tale of "The Rich Poor Man
and the Poor Rich Man," and this sent away two hours delightfully, as we
were gliding over the expanse of Lake St. Clair. Those who glanced on my
book while I was reading always smiled--a significant sympathising
smile, very expressive of that unenvious, affectionate homage and
admiration which this genuine American writer inspires among her
countrymen. I do not think I ever mentioned her name to any of them,
that the countenance did not light up with pleasure and gratified pride.
I have also a sensible little book, called "Three Experiments in
Living," written by Mrs. Lee, of Boston: it must be popular, and _true_
to life and nature, for the edition I bought is the tenth. I have also
another book to which I must introduce you more particularly--"The
Travels and Adventures of Alexander Henry." Did you ever hear of such a
man? No. Listen then, and perpend.

This Mr. Henry was a fur-trader who journeyed over these lake regions
about seventy years ago, and is quoted as first-rate authority in more
recent books of travels. His book, which was lent to me at Toronto,
struck me so much as to have had some influence in directing the course
of my present tour. Plain, unaffected, telling what he has to tell in
few and simple words, and without comment--the internal evidence of
truth--the natural sensibility and power of fancy, betrayed rather than
displayed--render not only the narrative, but the man himself, his
personal character, unspeakably interesting. Wild as are the tales of
his hairbreadth escapes, I never heard the slightest impeachment of his
veracity. He was living at Montreal so late as 1810 or 1811, when a
friend of mine saw him, and described him to me as a very old man past
eighty, with white hair, and still hale-looking and cheerful, so that
his hard and adventurous life, and the horrors he had witnessed and
suffered, had in no respect impaired his spirits or his constitution.
His book has been long out of print. I had the greatest difficulty in
procuring the loan of a copy, after sending to Montreal, Quebec, and New
York, in vain. Mr. Henry is to be my travelling companion. I do not know
how he might have figured as a squire of dames when living, but I assure
you that being dead he makes a very respectable hero of epic or romance.
He is the Ulysses of these parts; and to cruise among the shores, rocks,
and islands of Lake Huron without Henry's travels, were like coasting
Calabria and Sicily without the Odyssey in your head or hand,--only here
you have the island of Mackinaw instead of the island of Circe; the land
of the Ottawas instead of the shores of the Lotophagi; cannibal
Chippewas, instead of man-eating Læstrigons. Pontiac figures as
Polypheme; and Wa,wa,tam plays the part of good king Alcinous. I can
find no type for the women, as Henry does not tell us his adventures
among the squaws; but no doubt he might have found both Calypsos and
Nausicaas, and even a Penelope, among them.

       *     *     *     *     *

                                                                July 20.

Before I went down to my rest yesterday evening, I beheld a strange and
beautiful scene. The night was coming on; the moon had risen round and
full, like an enormous globe of fire; we were still in the channel of
the river, when, to the right, I saw a crowd of Indians on a projecting
point of land. They were encamping for the night, some hauling up their
canoes, some building up their wigwams: there were numerous fires
blazing amid the thick foliage, and the dusky figures of the Indians
were seen glancing to and fro; and I heard loud laughs and shouts as our
huge steamer swept past them. In another moment we turned a point, and
all was dark: the whole had vanished like a scene in a melodrama. I
rubbed my eyes, and began to think I was already dreaming.

At the entrance of the river St. Clair, the Americans have a fort and
garrison (Fort Gratiot), and a lighthouse, which we passed in the night.
On the opposite side we have no station; so that, in case of any
misunderstanding between the two nations, it would be in the power of
the Americans to shut the entrance of Lake Huron upon us.


At seven this morning, when I went on deck, we had advanced about one
hundred miles into Lake Huron. We were coasting along the south shore,
about four miles from the land, while, on the other side, we had about
two hundred miles of open _sea_, and the same expanse before us. Soon
after, we had to pass the entrance of Sagginaw Bay. Here we lost sight
of land for the first time. Sagginaw Bay, I should suppose, is as large
as the Gulf of Genoa; it runs seventy or eighty miles up into the land,
and is as famous for storms as the Bay of Biscay. Here, if there be a
capful of wind, or a cupful of sea, one is sure to have the benefit of
it; for even in the finest weather there is a considerable swell. We
were about three hours crossing from the Pointe Aux Barques to Cape
Thunder; and during this time a number of my companions were put _hors
de combat_.

All this part of Michigan is unsettled, and is said to be sandy and
barren. Along the whole horizon was nothing visible but the dark
omnipresent pine-forest. The Sagginaw Indians, whose hunting-grounds
extend along the shore, are, I believe, a tribe of Ottawas. I should
add, that the Americans have built a lighthouse on a little island near
Thunder Bay. A situation more terrific in its solitude you cannot
imagine than that of the keeper of this lonely tower, among rocks,
tempests, and savages. All their provisions come from a distance of at
least one hundred miles, and a long course of stormy weather, which
sometimes occurs, would place them in danger of starvation.


  Doth the bright sun from the high arch of heaven,
  In all his beauteous robes of flecker'd clouds,
  And ruddy vapours, and deep glowing flames,
  And softly varied shades, look gloriously?
  Do the green woods dance to the wind? the lakes
  Cast up their sparkling waters to the light?

                                                         Joanna Baillie.

The next morning, at earliest dawn, I was wakened by an unusual noise
and movement on board, and putting out my head to inquire the cause, was
informed that we were arrived at the island of Mackinaw, and that the
captain being most anxious to proceed on his voyage, only half an hour
was allowed to make all my arrangements, take out my luggage, and so
forth. I dressed in all haste and ran up to the deck, and there a scene
burst at once on my enchanted gaze, such as I never had imagined, such
as I wish I could place before you in words,--but I despair, unless
words were of light, and lustrous hues, and breathing music. However,
here is the picture as well as I can paint it. We were lying in a tiny
bay, crescent-shaped, of which the two horns or extremities were formed
by long narrow promontories projecting into the lake. On the east the
whole sky was flushed with a deep amber glow, fleckered with softest
shades of rose-colour--the same intense splendour being reflected in the
lake; and upon the extremity of the point, between the glory above and
the glory below, stood the little Missionary church, its light spire and
belfry defined against the sky. On the opposite side of the heavens hung
the moon, waxing paler and paler, and melting away, as it seemed, before
the splendour of the rising day. Immediately in front rose the abrupt
and picturesque heights of the island, robed in richest foliage, and
crowned by the lines of the little fortress, snow-white, and gleaming in
the morning light. At the base of these cliffs, all along the shore,
immediately on the edge of the lake, which, transparent and unruffled,
reflected every form as in a mirror, an encampment of Indian lodges
extended as far as my eye could reach on either side. Even while I
looked, the inmates were beginning to bestir themselves, and dusky
figures were seen emerging into sight from their picturesque
dormitories, and stood gazing on us with folded arms, or were busied
about their canoes, of which some hundreds lay along the beach.


There was not a breath of air; and while heaven and earth were glowing
with light, and colour, and life, an elysian stillness, a delicious
balmy serenity wrapt and interfused the whole. O how passing lovely it
was! how wondrously beautiful and strange! I cannot tell how long I may
have stood, lost--absolutely lost, and fearing even to wink my eyes,
lest the spell should dissolve, and all should vanish away like some
air-wrought phantasy, some dream out of fairy land,--when the good
Bishop of Michigan came up to me, and with a smiling benevolence waked
me out of my ecstatic trance; and reminding me that I had but two
minutes left, seized upon some of my packages himself, and hurried me on
to the little wooden pier just in time. We were then conducted to a
little inn, or boarding-house, kept by a very fat half-caste Indian
woman, who spoke Indian, bad French, and worse English, and who was
addressed as _Madame_. Here I was able to arrange my hasty toilette, and
we sat down to an excellent breakfast of white-fish, eggs, tea and
coffee, for which the charge was twice what I should have given at the
first hotel in the United States, and yet not unreasonable, considering
that European luxuries were placed before us in this remote spot. By the
time breakfast was discussed it was past six o'clock, and taking my
sketch-book in my hand, I sauntered forth alone to the beach till it
should be a fitting hour to present myself at the door of the American
agent, Mr. Schoolcraft, whose wife was the sister of Mrs. MacMurray.

The first object which caught my eye was the immense steamer gliding
swiftly away towards the straits of Michilimackinac, already far, far to
the west. Suddenly the thought of my extreme loneliness came over me--a
momentary wonder and alarm to find myself so far from any human being
who took the least interest about my fate. I had no letter to Mr.
Schoolcraft; and if Mr. and Mrs. MacMurray had not passed this way, or
had forgotten to mention me, what would be my reception? what should I
do? Here I must stay for some days at least. All the accommodation that
could be afforded by the half-French, half-Indian "Madame," had been
already secured, and, without turning out the bishop, there was not even
a room for me. These thoughts and many others, some natural doubts, and
fears, came across my mind, but I cannot say that they remained there
long, or that they had the effect of rendering me uneasy and anxious for
more than half a minute. With a sense of enjoyment keen and
unanticipative as that of a child--looking neither before nor after--I
soon abandoned myself to the present, and all its delicious exciting
novelty, leaving the future to take care of itself,--which I am more and
more convinced is the truest wisdom, the most real philosophy, after


The sun had now risen in cloudless glory--all was life and movement. I
strayed and loitered for full three hours along the shore, I hardly knew
whither, sitting down occasionally under the shadow of a cliff or cedar
fence to rest, and watching the operations of the Indian families. It
were endless to tell you of each individual group or picture as
successively presented before me. But there were some general features
of the scene which struck me at once. There were more than one hundred
lodges, and round each of these lurked several ill-looking,
half-starved, yelping dogs. The women were busied about their children,
or making fires and cooking, or pounding Indian corn, in a primitive
sort of mortar, formed of part of a tree hollowed out, with a heavy rude
pestle which they moved up and down, as if churning. The dress of the
men was very various--the cotton shirt, blue or scarlet leggings, and
deer-skin mocassins and blanket coat, were most general; but many had no
shirt nor vest, merely the cloth leggings, and a blanket thrown round
them as drapery; the faces of several being most grotesquely painted.
The dress of the women was more uniform,--a cotton shirt, and cloth
leggings and mocassins, and a dark blue blanket. Necklaces, silver
armlets, silver earrings, and circular plates of silver fastened on the
breast, were the usual ornaments of both sexes. There may be a general
equality of rank among the Indians; but there is evidently all that
inequality of condition which difference of character and intellect
might naturally produce; there were rich wigwams and poor wigwams; whole
families ragged, meagre, and squalid, and others gay with dress and
ornaments, fat and well-favoured: on the whole, these were beings quite
distinct from any Indians I had yet seen, and realised all my ideas of
the wild and lordly savage. I remember I came upon a family group,
consisting of a fine tall young man and two squaws; one had a child
swaddled in one of their curious bark cradles, which she composedly hung
up against the side of the wigwam. They were then busied launching a
canoe, and in a moment it was dancing upon the rippling waves: one woman
guided the canoe, the other paddled; the young man stood in the prow in
a striking and graceful attitude, poising his fish-spear in his hand.
When they were about a hundred yards from the shore, suddenly I saw the
fish-spear darted into the water, and disappear beneath it; as it sprang
up again to the surface, it was rapidly seized, and a large fish was
sticking to the prongs; the same process was repeated with unerring
success, and then the canoe was paddled back to the land. The young man
flung his spear into the bottom of the canoe, and, drawing his blanket
round him, leapt on shore, and lounged away without troubling himself
farther; the women drew up the canoe, kindled a fire, and suspended the
fish over it, to be cooked _à la mode Indienne_.

There was another group which amused me exceedingly: it was a large
family, and, compared with some others, they were certainly people of
distinction and substance, rich in beads, blankets, and brass kettles,
with "all things handsome about them;" they had two lodges and two
canoes. But I must begin by making you understand the construction of an
Indian lodge,--such, at least, as those which now crowded the shore.

Eight or twelve long poles are stuck in the ground in a circle, meeting
at a point at the top, where they are all fastened together. The
skeleton thus erected is covered over, thatched in some sort with mats,
or large pieces of birch bark, beginning at the bottom, and leaving an
opening at top for the emission of smoke: there is a door about four
feet high, before which a skin or blanket is suspended; and as it is
summer time, they do not seem particular about closing the chinks and
apertures.[22] As to the canoes, they are uniformly of birch bark,
exceedingly light, flat-bottomed, and most elegant in shape, varying in
size from eighteen to thirty-six feet in length, and from a foot and a
half to four feet in width. The family I have mentioned were preparing
to embark, and were dismantling their wigwams and packing up their
goods, not at all discomposed by my vicinity, as I sat on a bank
watching the whole process with no little interest. The most striking
personage in this group was a very old man, seated on a log of wood,
close upon the edge of the water; his head was quite bald, excepting a
few gray hairs which were gathered in a tuft at the top, and decorated
with a single feather--I think an eagle's feather; his blanket of
scarlet cloth was so arranged as to fall round his limbs in graceful
folds, leaving his chest and shoulders exposed; he held a green umbrella
over his head, (a gift or purchase from some white trader,) and in the
other hand a long pipe--and he smoked away, never stirring, nor taking
the slightest interest in anything which was going on. Then there were
two fine young men, and three women, one old and hideous, with matted
grizzled hair, the youngest really a beautiful girl about fifteen. There
were also three children; the eldest had on a cotton shirt, the breast
of which was covered with silver ornaments. The men were examining the
canoes, and preparing to launch them; the women were taking down their
wigwams, and as they uncovered them, I had an opportunity of observing
the whole interior economy of their dwellings.

The ground within was spread over with mats, two or three deep, and
skins and blankets, so as to form a general couch: then all around the
internal circle of the wigwam were ranged their goods and chattels in
very tidy order; I observed wooden chests, of European make, bags of
woven grass, baskets and cases of birch bark (called _mokkuks_,) also
brass kettles, pans, and, to my surprise, a large coffee-pot of queen's

When all was arranged, and the canoes afloat, the poles of the wigwams
were first placed at the bottom, then the mats and bundles, which served
apparently to sit on, and the kettles and chests were stowed in the
middle; the old man was assisted by the others into the largest canoe;
women, children, and dogs followed; the young men stood in the stern
with their paddles as steersmen; the women and boys squatted down; each
with a paddle;--with all this weight, the elegant buoyant little canoes
scarcely sank an inch deeper in the water--and in this guise away they
glided with surprising swiftness over the sparkling waves, directing
their course eastwards for the Manitoolin Islands, where I hope to see
them again. The whole process of preparation and embarkation did not
occupy an hour.

[Footnote 22: I learned subsequently, that the cone-like form of the
wigwam is proper to the Ottawas and Pottowottomies, and that the oblong
form, in which the branches or poles are bent over at top in an arch, is
proper to the Chippewa tribe. But as this latter is more troublesome to
erect, the former construction is usually adopted by the Chippewas also
in their temporary encampments.]

       *     *     *     *     *


About ten o'clock I ventured to call on Mr. Schoolcraft, and was
received by him with grave and quiet politeness. They were prepared, he
said, for my arrival, and then he apologised for whatever might be
deficient in my reception, and for the absence of his wife, by informing
me that she was ill, and had not left her room for some days.

Much was I discomposed and shocked to find myself an intruder under such
circumstances! I said so, and begged that they would not think of
me--that I could easily provide for myself--and so I could and would. I
would have laid myself down in one of the Indian lodges rather than have
been _de trop_. But Mr. Schoolcraft said, with much kindness, that they
knew already of my arrival by one of my fellow-passengers--that a room
was prepared for me, a servant already sent down for my goods, and Mrs.
Schoolcraft, who was a little better that morning, hoped to see me.
Here, then, I am installed for the next few days--and I know not how
many more--so completely am I at the mercy of "fates, destinies, and
such branches of learning!"

       *     *     *     *     *

I am charmed with Mrs. Schoolcraft. When able to appear, she received me
with true ladylike simplicity. The damp, tremulous hand, the soft,
plaintive voice, the touching expression of her countenance, told too
painfully of resigned and habitual suffering. Mrs. Schoolcraft's
features are more decidedly Indian than those of her sister Mrs.
MacMurray. Her accent is slightly foreign--her choice of language pure
and remarkably elegant. In the course of an hour's talk, all my
sympathies were enlisted in her behalf, and I thought that she, on her
part, was inclined to return these benignant feelings. I promised myself
to repay her hospitality by all the attention and gratitude in my power.
I am here a lonely stranger, thrown upon her sufferance; but she is
good, gentle, and in most delicate health, and there are a thousand
quiet ways in which woman may be kind and useful to her sister woman.
Then she has two sweet children about eight or nine years old--no fear,
you see, but that we shall soon be the best friends in the world!

This day, however, I took care not to be _à charge_, so I ran about
along the lovely shore, and among the Indians, inexpressibly amused, and
occupied, and excited by all I saw and heard. At last I returned--O so
wearied out--so spent in body and mind! I was fain to go to rest soon
after sunset. A nice little room had been prepared for me, and a _wide_
comfortable bed, into which I sank with such a feeling of peace,
security, and thankfulness, as could only be conceived by one who had
been living in comfortless inns and close steam-boats for the last

       *     *     *     *     *


On a little platform, not quite half way up the wooded height which
overlooks the bay, embowered in foliage, and sheltered from the
tyrannous breathing of the north by the precipitous cliff, rising almost
perpendicularly behind, stands the house in which I find myself at
present a grateful and contented inmate. The ground in front sloping
down to the shore, is laid out in a garden, with an avenue of fruit
trees, the gate at the end opening on the very edge of the lake. From
the porch I look down upon the scene I have endeavoured--how
inadequately!--to describe to you: the little crescent bay; the village
of Mackinaw; the beach thickly studded with Indian lodges; canoes
fishing, or darting hither and thither, light and buoyant as sea-birds;
a tall graceful schooner swinging at anchor. Opposite rises the Island
of Bois-blanc, with its tufted and most luxuriant foliage. To the east
we see the open lake, and in the far western distance the promontory of
Michilimackinac, and the strait of that name, the portal of Lake
Michigan. The exceeding beauty of this little paradise of an island, the
attention which has been excited by its enchanting scenery, and the
salubrity of its summer climate, the facility of communication lately
afforded by the lake steamers, and its situation half-way between
Detroit and the newly-settled regions of the west, are likely to render
Mackinaw a sort of watering-place for the Michigan and Wisconsin
fashionables, or, as the bishop expressed it, the "Rockaway of the
west;" so at least it is anticipated. How far such an accession of
fashion and reputation may be desirable, I know not; I am only glad it
has not yet taken place, and that I have beheld this lovely island in
all its wild beauty.

When I left my room this morning, I remained for some time in the
parlour, looking over the Wisconsin Gazette, a good sized, well printed
newspaper, published on the west shore of Lake Michigan. I was reading a
most pathetic and serious address from the new settlers in Wisconsin to
_the down-east girls_, (_i. e._ the women of the eastern states,) who
are invited to the relief of these hapless hard-working bachelors in the
backwoods. They are promised affluence and love,--the "picking and
choosing among a set of the finest young fellows in the world," who are
ready to fall at their feet, and make the most adoring and the most
obedient of husbands! Can you fancy what a pretty thing a Wisconsin
pastoral might be? Only imagine one of these despairing backwoodsmen
inditing an Ovidian epistle to his unknown mistress--"_down
east_,"--wooing her to come and be wooed! Well, I was enjoying this
comical effusion, and thinking that women must certainly be at a premium
in these parts, when suddenly the windows were darkened, and looking up,
I beheld a crowd of faces, dusky, painted, wild, grotesque--with
flashing eyes and white teeth, staring in upon me. I quickly threw down
the paper and hastened out. The porch, the little lawn, the garden
walks, were crowded with Indians, the elder chiefs and warriors sitting
on the ground, or leaning silently against the pillars; the young men,
women, and boys lounging and peeping about, with eager and animated
looks, but all perfectly well conducted, and their voices low and
pleasing to the ear. They were chiefly Ottawas and Pottowottomies, two
tribes which "call brother," that is, claim relationship, and are
usually in alliance, but widely different. The Ottawas are the most
civilised, the Pottowottomies the least so of all the lake tribes. The
Ottawa I soon distinguished by the decency of his dress, and the
handkerchief knotted round the head--a custom borrowed from the early
French settlers, with whom they have had much intercourse: the
Pottowottomie by the more savage finery of his costume, his tall figure,
and a sort of swagger in his gait. The dandyism of some of these
Pottowottomie warriors is inexpressibly amusing and grotesque: I defy
all Regent Street and Bond Street to go beyond them in the exhibition of
self-decoration and self-complacency. One of these exquisites, whom I
called Beau Brummel, was not indeed much indebted to a tailor, seeing he
had neither a coat nor any thing else that gentlemen are accustomed to
wear; but then his face was most artistically painted, the upper half
of it being vermillion, with a black circle round one eye, and a white
circle round the other; the lower half of a bright green, except the tip
of his nose, which was also vermillion. His leggings of scarlet cloth
were embroidered down the sides, and decorated with tufts of hair. The
band, or garter, which confines the leggings, is always an especial bit
of finery; and his were gorgeous, all embroidered with gay beads, and
strings and tassels of the liveliest colours hanging down to his ankle.
His moccasins were also beautifully worked with porcupine quills; he had
armlets and bracelets of silver; and round his head a silver band stuck
with tufts of moosehair died blue and red; and, conspicuous above all,
the eagle feather in his hair, showing he was a warrior, and had taken a
scalp--_i. e._ killed his man. Over his shoulders hung a blanket of
scarlet cloth, very long and ample, which he had thrown back a little,
so as to display his chest, on which a large outspread hand was painted
in white. It is impossible to describe the air of perfect
self-complacency with which this youth strutted about. Seeing my
attention fixed upon him, he came up and shook hands with me, repeating
"Bojou! bojou!"[23] Others immediately pressed forward also to shake
hands, or rather take my hand, for they do not _shake_ it; and I was
soon in the midst of a crowd of perhaps thirty or forty Indians, all
holding out their hands to me, or snatching mine, and repeating "bojou"
with every expression of delight and good-humour.

This must suffice in the way of description, for I cannot further
particularise dresses; they were very various, and few so fine as that
of my young Pottowottomie. I remember another young man, who had a
common black beaver hat, all round which, in several silver bands, he
had stuck a profusion of feathers, and long tufts of dyed hair, so that
it formed a most gorgeous helmet. Some wore their hair hanging loose and
wild in elf-locks, but others again had combed and arranged it with much
care and pains.

The men seemed to engross the finery; none of the women that I saw were
painted. Their blankets were mostly dark blue; some had strings of beads
round their necks, and silver armlets. The hair of some of the young
women was very prettily arranged, being parted smooth upon the forehead
and twisted in a knot behind, very much _à la Grecque_. There is, I
imagine, a very general and hearty aversion to cold water.

       *     *     *     *     *

This morning there was a "talk" held in the commissioner's office, and
he kindly invited me to witness the proceedings. About twenty of their
principal men, including a venerable old chief, were present; the rest
stood outside, crowding the doors and windows, but never attempting to
enter, nor causing the slightest interruption. The old chief wore a
quantity of wampum, but was otherwise undistinguished, except by his
fine head and acute features. His gray hair was drawn back, and tied on
the top of his head with a single feather. All, as they entered, took me
by the hand with a quiet smile and a "bojou," to which I replied, as I
had been instructed, "Bojou, neeje!" (good-day, friend). They then sat
down upon the floor, all round the room. Mr. Johnston, Mrs.
Schoolcraft's brother, acted as interpreter, and the business proceeded
with the utmost gravity.

After some whispering among themselves, an orator of the party addressed
the commissioner with great emphasis. Extending his hand and raising his
voice, he began: "Father, I am come to tell you a piece of my mind." But
when he had uttered a few sentences, Mr. Schoolcraft desired the
interpreter to tell him that it was useless to speak farther on _that_
subject, (I understood it to relate to some land-payments). The orator
stopped immediately, and then, after a pause, he went up and took Mr.
Schoolcraft's hand with a friendly air, as if to show he was not
offended. Another orator then arose, and proceeded to the object of the
visit, which was to ask an allowance of corn, salt, and tobacco, while
they remained on the island, a request which I presume was granted, as
they departed with much apparent satisfaction.

There was not a figure among them that was not a study for a painter;
and how I wished that my hand had been readier with the pencil to snatch
some of those picturesque heads and attitudes. But it was all so new. I
was so lost in gazing, listening, observing, and trying to comprehend,
that I could not make a single sketch, except the above, in most poor
and inadequate words.

       *     *     *     *     *

The Indians here--and fresh parties are constantly arriving--are chiefly
Ottawas, from Arbre Croche, on the east of Lake Michigan;
Pottowottomies; and Winnebagos from the west of the lake; a few
Menomonies and Chippewas from the shores north-west of us; the occasion
of this assemblage being the same with all. They are on the way to the
Manitoolin Islands, to receive the presents annually distributed by the
British government to all those Indian tribes who were friendly to us
during the wars with America, and call themselves our allies and our
children, though living within the bounds of another state. Some of them
make a voyage of five hundred miles to receive a few blankets and
kettles; coasting along the shores, encamping at night, and paddling all
day from sunrise to sunset, living on the fish or game they may meet,
and the little provision they can carry with them, which consists
chiefly of parched Indian corn and bear's fat. Some are out on this
excursion during six weeks, or more, every year; returning to their
hunting grounds by the end of September, when the great hunting season
begins, which continues through October and November; they then return
to their villages and wintering grounds. This applies generally to the
tribes I find here, except the Ottawas of Arbre Croche, who have a good
deal of land in cultivation, and are more stationary and civilised than
the other Lake Indians. They have been for nearly a century under the
care of the French Jesuit missions, but do not seem to have made much
advance since Henry's time, and the days when they were organised under
Pontiac; they were even then considered superior in humanity and
intelligence to the Chippewas and Pottowottomies, and more inclined to
agriculture. After some most sultry weather, we have had a grand storm.
The wind shifted to the north-east, and rose to a hurricane. I was then
sitting with my Irish friend in the mission-house; and while the little
bay lay almost tranquil, gleam and shadow floating over its bosom, the
expanse of the main lake was like the ocean lashed to fury. On the east
side of the island the billows came "rolling with might," flinging
themselves in wrath and foam far up the land. It was a magnificent
spectacle. Returning home, I was anxious to see how the Indian
establishment had stood out the storm, and was surprised to find that
little or no damage had been done. I peeped into several, with a nod and
a _bojou_, and found the inmates very snug. Here and there a mat was
blown away, but none of the poles were displaced or blown down, which I
had firmly expected.

Though all these lodges seem nearly alike to a casual observer, I was
soon aware of differences and gradations in the particular arrangements,
which are amusingly characteristic of the various inhabitants. There is
one lodge, a little to the east of us, which I call the Château. It is
rather larger and loftier than the others: the mats which cover it are
whiter and of a neater texture than usual. The blanket which hangs
before the opening is new and clean. The inmates, ten in number, are
well and handsomely dressed; even the women and children have abundance
of ornaments; and as for the gay cradle of the baby, I quite covet
it--it is so gorgeously elegant. I supposed at first that this must be
the lodge of a chief; but I have since understood that the chief is
seldom either so well lodged or so well dressed as the others, it being
a part of his policy to avoid everything like ostentation, or rather to
be ostentatiously poor and plain in his apparel and possessions. This
wigwam belongs to an Ottawa, remarkable for his skill in hunting, and
for his habitual abstinence from the "fire-water." He is a baptized
Roman Catholic, belonging to the mission at Arbre Croche, and is reputed
a rich man.

Not far from this, and almost immediately in front of our house, stands
another wigwam, a most wretched concern. The owners have not mats enough
to screen them from the weather; and the bare poles are exposed on every
side. The woman, with her long neglected hair, is always seen cowering
despondingly over the embers of her fire, as if lost in sad reveries.
Two naked children are scrambling among the pebbles on the shore. The
man wrapt in a dirty ragged blanket, without a single ornament, looks
the image of savage inebriety and ferocity. Observe that these are the
two extremes, and that between them are many gradations of comfort,
order, and respectability. An Indian is _respectable_ in his own
community, in proportion as his wife and children look fat and well fed;
this being a proof of his prowess and success as a hunter, and his
consequent riches.

I was loitering by the garden gate this evening, about sunset, looking
at the beautiful effects which the storm of the morning had left in the
sky and on the lake. I heard the sound of the Indian drum, mingled with
the shouts and yells and shrieks of the intoxicated savages, who were
drinking in front of the village whisky store;--when at this moment a
man came slowly up, whom I recognised as one of the Ottawa chiefs, who
had often attracted my attention. His name is Kim,e,wun, which signifies
the Rain, or rather "it rains." He now stood before me, one of the
noblest figures I ever beheld, above six feet high, erect as a forest
pine. A red and green handkerchief was twined round his head with much
elegance, and knotted in front, with the two ends projecting; his black
hair fell from beneath it, and his small black piercing eyes glittered
from among its masses, like stars glancing through the thunder clouds.
His ample blanket was thrown over his left shoulder, and brought under
his right arm, so as to leave it free and exposed; and a sculptor might
have envied the disposition of the whole drapery--it was so felicitous,
so richly graceful. He stood in a contemplative attitude, evidently
undecided whether he should join his drunken companions in their night
revel, or return, like a wise man, to his lodge and his mat. He advanced
a few steps, then turned, then paused and listened--then turned back
again. I retired a little within the gate, to watch, unseen, the issue
of the conflict. Alas! it was soon decided--the fatal temptation
prevailed over better thoughts. He suddenly drew his blanket round him,
and strided onwards in the direction of the village, treading the earth
with an air of defiance, and a step which would have become a prince.

On returning home, I mentioned this scene to Mr. and Mrs. Schoolcraft,
as I do everything which strikes me, that I may profit by their remarks
and explanations. Mr. S. told me a laughable anecdote.

A distinguished Pottowottomie warrior presented himself to the Indian
agent at Chicago, and observing that he was a very good man, very good
indeed--and a good friend to the Long-knives, (the Americans,) requested
a dram of whisky. The agent replied, that he never gave whisky to _good_
men,--_good_ men never asked for whisky; and never drank it. It was only
_bad_ Indians who asked for whisky, or liked to drink it. "Then,"
replied the Indian quickly in his broken English, "me damn rascal!"

       *     *     *     *     *

The revel continued far through the night, for I heard the wild yelling
and whooping of the savages long after I had gone to rest. I can now
conceive what it must be to hear that shrill prolonged cry (unlike any
sound I ever heard in my life before) in the solitude of the forest, and
when it is the certain harbinger of death.

It is surprising to me, considering the number of savages congregated
together, and the excess of drunkenness, that no mischief is done; that
there has been no fighting, no robberies committed, and that there is a
feeling of perfect security around me. The women, they tell me, have
taken away their husbands' knives and tomahawks, and hidden them--wisely
enough. At this time there are about twelve hundred Indians here. The
fort is empty--the garrison having been withdrawn as useless; and
perhaps there are not a hundred white men in the island,--rather
unequal odds! And then that fearful Michilimackinac in full view, with
all its horrid, murderous associations![24] But do not for a moment
imagine that I feel _fear_, or the slightest doubt of security; only a
sort of thrill which enhances the enjoyment I have in these wild
scenes--a thrill such as one feels in the presence of danger when most
safe from it--such as I felt when bending over the rapids of Niagara.

The Indians, apparently, have no idea of correcting or restraining their
children; personal chastisement is unheard of. They say that before a
child has any understanding there is no use in correcting it; and when
old enough to understand, no one has a right to correct it. Thus the
fixed, inherent sentiment of personal independence grows up with the
Indians from earliest infancy. The will of an Indian child is not
forced; he has nothing to learn but what he sees done around him, and he
learns by imitation. I hear no scolding, no tones of command or reproof;
but I see no evil results from this mild system, for the general
reverence and affection of children for parents is delightful; where
there is no obedience exacted, there can be no rebellion; they dream not
of either, and all live in peace in the same lodge.

I observe, while loitering among them, that they seldom raise their
voices, and they pronounce several words much more softly than we write
them. Wigwam, a house, they pronounce _wee-ga-waum_; moccasin, a shoe,
_muck-a-zeen_; manito, spirit, _mo-nee-do_,--lengthening the vowels, and
softening the aspirates. _Chippewa_ is properly _O,jîb-wày_;
_ab,bin,no,jee_ is a little child. The accent of the women is
particularly soft, with a sort of plaintive modulation, reminding me of
recitative. Their low laugh is quite musical, and has something
infantine in it. I sometimes hear them sing, and the strain is generally
in a minor key; but I cannot succeed in detecting or retaining an entire
or distinct tune.

       *     *     *     *     *

There was a mission established on this island in 1823, for the
conversion of the Indians, and the education of the Indian and
half-breed children.[25] A large mission and school-house was erected,
and a neat little church. Those who were interested about the Indians
entertained the most sanguine expectations of the success of the
undertaking. But at present the extensive buildings of the mission-house
are used merely as Storehouses, or as lodgings; and if Mackinaw should
become a place of resort, they will probably be converted into a
fashionable hotel. The mission itself is established farther west,
somewhere near Green Bay, on Lake Michigan; and when overtaken by the
advancing stream of white civilisation, and the contagion which it
carries with it, no doubt it must retire yet farther.

As for the little missionary church, it has been for some time disused,
the French Canadians and half-breed on the island being mostly Roman
Catholics. To-day, however, divine service was performed in it by the
Bishop of Michigan, to a congregation of about twenty persons. Around
the open doors of the church, a crowd of Indians, principally women, had
assembled, and a few came in, and stood leaning against the pews, with
their blankets folded round them, mute and still, and respectfully

Immediately before me sat a man who at once attracted my attention. He
was an Indian, evidently of unmixed blood, though wearing a long blanket
coat and a decent but worn hat. His eyes, during the whole service, were
fixed on those of the Bishop with a passionate, eager gaze; not for a
moment were they withdrawn: he seemed to devour every word both of the
office and the sermon, and, by the working of his features, I supposed
him to be strongly impressed--it was the very enthusiasm of devotion:
and yet, strange to say, not one word did he understand. When I inquired
how it was that his attention was so fixed, and that he seemed thus
moved by what he could not possibly comprehend, I was told, "it was by
the power of faith." I have the story of this man (whom I see
frequently) from Mr. Schoolcraft. His name is Chusco. He was formerly a
distinguished man in his tribe as professor of the _Meta_ and the
_Wabeno_,--that is, physician and conjuror; and no less as a professor
of whisky-drinking. His wife, who had been converted by one of the
missionaries, converted her husband. He had long resisted her preaching
and persuasion, but at last one day, as they were making maple sugar
together on an island, "he was suddenly thrown into an agony as if an
evil spirit haunted him, and from that moment had no peace till he had
been baptized and received into the Christian church. From this time he
avoided drunkenness, and surrendered his medicine-bag, manitos, and
implements of sorcery into the hands of Mr. Schoolcraft. Subsequently he
showed no indisposition to speak of the power and arts he had exercised.
He would not allow that it was all mere trick and deception, but
insisted that he had been enabled to perform certain cures, or
extraordinary magical operations, by the direct agency of the evil
spirit, _i. e._ the devil, who, now that he was become a Christian, had
forsaken him, and left him in peace." I was a little surprised to find,
in the course of this explanation, that there were educated and
intelligent people who had no more doubt of this direct satanic agency
than the poor Indian himself.

Chusco has not touched ardent spirits for the last seven years, and,
ever since his conversion in the sugar-camp, he has firmly adhered to
his Christian profession. He is now between sixty and seventy years old,
with a countenance indicating more of mildness and simplicity than
intellect. Generally speaking, the men who practise medicine among the
Indians make a great mystery of their art, and of the herbs and nostrums
they are in the habit of using; and it were to be wished that one of
these converted medicine-men could be prevailed on to disclose some of
their medical arcana; for of the efficacy of some of their
prescriptions, apart from the mummery with which they are accompanied,
there can be no doubt.

       *     *     *     *     *

We have taken several delicious drives over this lovely little island,
and traversed it in different directions. It is not more than three
miles in length, and wonderfully beautiful. There is no large or lofty
timber upon it, but a perpetual succession of low, rich groves, "alleys
green, dingles, and bosky dells." There is on the eastern coast a
natural arch or bridge, where the waters of the Lake have undermined the
rock, and left a fragment thrown across a chasm two hundred feet high.
Strawberries, raspberries, whortleberries, and cherries, were growing
everywhere wild, and in abundance. The whole island, when seen from a
distance, has the form of a turtle sleeping on the water: hence its
Indian appellation, Michilimackinac, which signifies the great turtle.
The same name is given to a spirit of great power and might, "a spirit
who never lies," whom the Indians invoke and consult before undertaking
any important or dangerous enterprise[26]; and this island, as I
apprehend, has been peculiarly dedicated to him; at all events, it has
been from time immemorial a place of note and sanctity among the
Indians. Its history, as far as the Europeans are connected with it, may
be told in a few words.

After the destruction of the fort at Michilimackinac, and the massacre
of the garrison in 1763, the English removed the fort and the trading
post to this island, and it continued for a long time a station of great
importance. In 1796 it was ceded, with the whole of the Michigan
territory, to the United States. The fort was then strengthened, and
garrisoned by a detachment of General Wayne's army.

In the war of 1813 it was taken and garrisoned by the British, who added
to the strength of the fortifications. The Americans were so sensible of
its importance, that they fitted out an expensive expedition in 1814 for
the purpose of retaking it, but were repulsed with the loss of one of
their bravest commanders and a great number of men, and forced to
retreat to their vessels. After this, Michilimackinac remained in
possession of the British, till at the peace it was again quietly
ceded, one hardly knows why, to the Americans, and in their possession
it now remains. The garrison, not being required in time of profound
peace, has been withdrawn. The pretty little fort remains.

[Footnote 23: This universal Indian salutation is merely a corruption of
_bon jour_.]

[Footnote 24: Michilimackinac was one of the forts surprised by the
Indians at the breaking out of the Pontiac war, when seventy British
soldiers with their officers were murdered and scalped. Henry gives a
most vivid description of this scene of horror in few words. He was
present, and escaped, through the friendship of an Indian (Wa,wa,tam)
who, in consequence of a dream in early youth, had adopted him as his

[Footnote 25: In 1828, Major Anderson, our Indian agent, computed the
number of Canadians and mixed breed married to Indian women, and
residing on the north shores of Lake Huron, and in the neighbourhood of
Michilimackinac, at nine hundred. This he called the _lowest_ estimate.]

[Footnote 26: See Henry's Travels, p. 117.]

       *     *     *     *     *


The most delightful as well as most profitable hours I spent here, are
those passed in the society of Mrs. Schoolcraft. Her genuine refinement
and simplicity, and native taste for literature, are charming; and the
exceeding delicacy of her health, and the trials to which it is exposed,
interest all my womanly sympathies. While in conversation with her, new
ideas of the Indian character suggest themselves; new sources of
information are opened to me, such as are granted to few, and such as I
gratefully appreciate. She is proud of her Indian origin; she takes an
enthusiastic and enlightened interest in the welfare of her people, and
in their conversion to Christianity, being herself most unaffectedly
pious. But there is a melancholy and pity in her voice, when speaking of
them, as if she did indeed consider them a doomed race. We were
conversing to-day of her grandfather, Waub-Ojeeg, (the White-fisher), a
distinguished Chippewa chief and warrior, of whose life and exploits she
has promised to give me some connected particulars. Of her mother,
O,shah,gush,ko,da,wa,qua, she speaks with fond and even longing
affection, as if the very sight of this beloved mother would be
sufficient to restore her to health and strength. "I should be well if I
could see my mother," seems the predominant feeling. Nowhere is the
instinctive affection between parent and child so strong, so deep, so
sacred, as among these people.

Celibacy in either sex is almost unknown among the Indians; equally rare
is all profligate excess. One instance I heard of a woman who had
remained unmarried from choice, not from accident or necessity. In
consequence of a dream in early youth (the Indians are great dreamers),
she not only regarded the sun as her manito or tutelary spirit (this had
been a common case), but considered herself especially dedicated, or in
fact married, to the luminary. She lived alone; she had built a wigwam
for herself, which was remarkably neat and commodious; she could use a
rifle, hunt, and provide herself with food and clothing. She had carved
a rude image of the sun, and set it up in her lodge; the husband's
place, the best mat, and a portion of food, were always appropriated to
this image. She lived to a great age, and no one ever interfered with
her mode of life, for that would have been contrary to all their ideas
of individual freedom. Suppose that, according to our most approved
European notions, the poor woman had been burnt at the stake,
corporeally or metaphorically, or hunted beyond the pale of the village,
for deviating from the law of custom, no doubt there would have been
directly a new female sect in the nation of the Chippewas, an order of
_wives of the sun_, and Chippewa vestal virgins; but these wise people
trusted to nature and common sense. The vocation apparently was not
generally admired, and found no imitators.

Their laws, or rather their customs, command certain virtues and
practices, as truth, abstinence, courage, hospitality; but, they have no
prohibitory laws whatever that I could hear of. In this respect their
moral code has something of the spirit of Christianity, as contrasted
with the Hebrew dispensation. Polygamy is allowed, but it is not common;
the second wife is considered as subject to the first, who remains
mistress of the household, even though the younger wife should be the
favourite. Jealousy, however, is a strong passion among them: not only
has a man been known to murder a woman whose fidelity he suspected, but
Mr. Schoolcraft mentioned to me an instance of a woman, who, in a
transport of jealousy, had stabbed her husband. But these extremes are
very rare.


Some time ago, a young Chippewa girl conceived a violent passion for a
hunter of a different tribe, and followed him from his winter
hunting-ground to his own village. He was already married, and the wife,
not being inclined to admit the rival, drove this love-sick damsel away,
and treated her with the utmost indignity. The girl, in desperation,
offered herself as a slave to the wife, to carry wood and water, and lie
at her feet--anything to be admitted within the same lodge and only
look upon the object of her affection. She prevailed at length. Now, the
mere circumstance of her residing within the same lodge made her also
the wife of the man, according to the Indian custom; but apparently she
was content to forego all the privileges and honours of a wife. She
endured, for several months, with uncomplaining resignation, every
species of ill usage and cruelty on the part of the first wife, till at
length this woman, unable any longer to suffer even the presence of a
rival, watched an opportunity as the other entered the wigwam with a
load of fire-wood, and cleft her skull with the husband's tomahawk.

"And did the man permit all this?" was the natural question.

The answer was remarkable. "What could _he_ do? he could not help it: a
woman is always absolute mistress in her own wigwam!"

In the end, the murder was not punished. The poor victim having fled
from a distant tribe, there were no relatives to take vengeance, or do
justice, and it concerned no one else. She lies buried at a short
distance from the Sault-Ste-Marie, where the murderess and her husband
yet live.

Women sometimes perish of grief for the loss of a husband or a child,
and men have been known to starve themselves on the grave of a beloved
wife. Men have also been known to give up their wives to the traders for
goods and whisky; but this, though forbidden by no law, is considered
disreputable, or, as my informant expressed it, "only bad Indians do

I should doubt, from all I see and hear, that the Indian squaw is that
absolute slave, drudge, and nonentity in the community, which she has
been described. She is despotic in her lodge, and every thing it
contains is hers; even of the game her husband kills, she has the
uncontrolled disposal. If her husband does not please her, she scolds
and even cuffs him; and it is in the highest degree unmanly to answer or
strike her. I have seen here a woman scolding and quarrelling with her
husband, seize him by the hair, in a style that might have become
civilised Billingsgate, or christian St. Giles's, and the next day I
have beheld the same couple sit lovingly together on the sunny side of
the wigwam, she kneeling behind him, and combing and arranging the hair
she had been pulling from his head the day before; just such a group as
I remember to have seen about Naples, or the Campagna di Roma, with very
little obvious difference either in costume or complexion.

There is no law against marrying near relations, but it is always
avoided; it is contrary to their customs: even first cousins do not
marry. The tie of blood seems considered as stronger than that of
marriage. A woman considers that she belongs more to her own relatives
than to her husband or his relatives; yet, notwithstanding this and the
facility of divorce, separations between husband and wife are very rare.
A couple will go on "squabbling and making it up" all their lives,
without having recourse to this expedient. If from displeasure, satiety,
or any other cause, a man sends his wife away, she goes back to her
relations, and invariably takes her children with her. The indefeasible
right of the mother to her offspring is Indian law, or rather, the
contrary notion does not seem to have entered their minds. A widow
remains subject to her husband's relations for two years after his
death; this is the decent period of mourning. At the end of two years,
she returns some of the presents made to her by her late husband, goes
back to her own relatives, and may marry again.

These particulars, and others which may follow, apply to the Chippewas
and the Ottawas around me; other tribes have other customs. I speak
merely of those things which are brought under my own immediate
observation and attention.


During the last American war of 1813, the young widow of a chief who had
been killed in battle, assumed his arms, ornaments, wampum, medal, and
went out with several war parties, in which she distinguished herself by
her exploits. Mrs. Schoolcraft, when a girl of eleven or twelve years
old, saw this woman, who was brought into the Fort at Mackinaw and
introduced to the commanding officer; and retains a lively recollection
of her appearance, and the interest and curiosity she excited. She was
rather below the middle size, slight and delicate in figure, like most
of the squaws;--covered with rich ornaments, silver armlets, with the
scalping-knife, pouch, medals, tomahawk--all the insignia, in short, of
an Indian warrior, except the war-paint and feathers. In the room hung a
large mirror, in which she surveyed herself with evident admiration and
delight, turning round and round before it, and laughing triumphantly.
She was invited to dine at the officers' mess, perhaps as a joke, but
conducted herself with so much intuitive propriety and decorum, that she
was dismissed with all honour and respect, and with handsome presents. I
could not learn what became of her afterwards.

Heroic women are not rare among the Indians, women who can bravely
suffer--bravely die; but Amazonian women, female amateur warriors, are
very extraordinary; I never heard but of this one instance. Generally,
the squaws around me give me the impression of exceeding feminine
delicacy and modesty, and of the most submissive gentleness. Female
chiefs, however, are not unknown in Indian history. There was a famous
_Squaw Sachem_, or chief, in the time of the early settlers. The present
head chief of the Ottawas, a very fine old man, succeeded a female, who,
it is further said, abdicated in his favour.

Even the standing rule or custom that women are never admitted to
councils has been evaded. At the treaty of Butte des Morts, in 1827, an
old Chippewa woman, the wife of a superannuated chief, appeared in place
of her husband, wearing his medal, and to all intents and purposes
representing him. The American commissioners treated her with studied
respect and distinction, and made her rich presents in cloth, ornaments,
tobacco, &c. On her return to her own village, she was waylaid and
murdered by a party of Menomonies. The next year two Menomonie women
were taken and put to death by the Chippewas: such is the Indian law of

       *     *     *     *     *


The language spoken around me is the Chippewa tongue, which, with little
variation, is spoken also by the Ottawas, Pottowottomies and
Missasaguas, and diffused all over the country of the lakes, and through
a population of about seventy thousand. It is in these countries what
the French is in Europe, the language of trade and diplomacy, understood
and spoken by those tribes, with whom it is not vernacular. In this
language Mrs. Schoolcraft generally speaks to her children and Indian
domestics. It is not only very sweet and musical to the ear, with its
soft inflections and lengthened vowels, but very complex and artificial
in its construction, and subject to strict grammatical rules; this, for
an unwritten language--for they have no alphabet--appears to me very
curious. The particulars which follow I have from Mr. Schoolcraft, who
has deeply studied the Chippewa language, and what he terms, not without
reason, the philosophy of its syntax.

The great division of all words, and the pervading principle of the
language, is the distinction into animate and inanimate objects: not
only nouns, but adjectives, verbs, pronouns, are inflected in accordance
with this principle. The distinction, however, seems as arbitrary as
that between masculine and feminine nouns in some European languages.
Trees, for instance, are of the animate gender. The sun, moon, thunder
and lightning, a canoe, a pipe, a water-fall, are all animate. The verb
is not only modified to agree with the subject, it must be farther
modified to agree with the object spoken of, whether animate or
inanimate: an Indian cannot say simply, I love, I eat; the word must
express by its inflection what he loves or eats, whether it belong to
the animate or inanimate gender.

What is curious enough is, that the noun or name can be conjugated like
a verb: the word _man_, for instance, can be inflected to express, I
_am_ a man, thou _art_ a man, he _is_ a man, I _was_ a man, I _will be_
a man, and so forth; and the word husband can be so inflected as to
signify by a change of syllables, _I have a_ husband, and _I have not_ a

They have three numbers, like the Greek, but of different signification:
they have the singular, and two plurals, one indefinite and general like
ours, and one including the persons or things present, and excluding
those which are absent; and distinct inflections are required for these
two plurals.

There are distinct words to express certain distinctions of sex, as with
us; for instance, man, woman, father, mother, sister, brother, are
distinct words, but more commonly sex is distinguished by a masculine or
feminine syllable or termination. The word _equay_, a woman, is thus
used as a feminine termination where persons are concerned. Ogima, is a
chief, and Ogimquay, a female chief.

There are certain words and expressions which are in a manner masculine
and feminine by some prescriptive right, and cannot be used
indifferently by the two sexes. Thus, one man addressing another says
"nichi," or "neejee," my friend. One woman addressing another woman
says, "Nin,dong,quay" (as nearly as I can imitate the sound), my friend,
or rather, I believe, female relation; and it would be indelicacy in one
sex, and arrogance in the other, to exchange these terms between man and
woman. When a woman is surprised at anything she sees or hears, she
exclaims, "N'ya!" When a man is surprised he exclaims, "T'ya!" and it
would be contrary to all Indian notions of propriety and decorum, if a
man condescended to say "N'ya!" or if a woman presumed to use the
masculine interjection "T'ya!" I could give you other curious instances
of the same kind. They have different words for eldest brother, eldest
sister, and for brother and sister in general. _Brother_ is a common
expression of kindness, _father_, of respect, and grandfather is a title
of very great respect.

They have no form of imprecation or swearing. Closing the hand, then
throwing it forth and opening it suddenly with a jerk, is the strongest
gesture of contempt, and the words "bad dog," the strongest expression
of abuse and vituperation: both are unpardonable insults, and used

A mother's term of endearment to her child is "My bird--my young one,"
and sometimes playfully "My old man." When I asked what words were used
of reproach or menace, I was told that Indian children were _never_
scolded--_never_ menaced.

The form of salutation in common use between the Indians and the whites
is the _bo-jou_, borrowed from the early French settlers, the first
Europeans with whom the North-west Indians were brought in contact.
Among themselves there is no set form of salutation; when two friends
meet after a long absence, they take hands, and exclaim, "We see each

       *     *     *     *     *


I have been "working like beaver," to borrow an Indian phrase. This has
been a rich and busy day. What with listening, learning, scribbling,
transcribing, my wits as well as my pen are well nigh worn to a stump.
But I am not going to tell here of well-known Indian customs, and repeat
anecdotes to be found in all the popular books of travel. With the
general characteristics of Indian life and manners I suppose the reader
already familiar, from the works of Cooper, Washington Irving, Charles
Hoffman, and others. I can add nothing to these sources of information;
only bear testimony to the vigour, and liveliness and truth of the
pictures they have drawn. I am amused at every moment by the coincidence
between what I see and what I have read; but I must confess I never read
anything like the Indian fictions I have just been transcribing from the
first and highest authority.

We can easily understand that among a people whose objects in life are
few and simple, society cannot be very brilliant, nor conversation very
amusing. The taciturnity of the Indians does not arise from any ideas of
gravity, decorum, or personal dignity, but rather from the dearth of
ideas and of subjects of interest. Henry mentions the dulness of the
long winters, when he was residing in the wigwam of his brother
Wa,wa,tam, whose family were yet benevolent and intelligent. He had
nothing to do but to smoke. Among the Indians, he says, the topics of
conversation are few, and are limited to the transactions of the day and
the incidents of the chase. The want of all variety in their lives, of
all intellectual amusement, is one cause of their passion for gambling
and for ardent spirits. The chase is to them a severe toil, not a
recreation--the means of existence, not the means of excitement, They
have, however an amusement which I do not remember to have seen noticed
anywhere. Like the Arabians, they have among them story-tellers by
profession, persons who go about from lodge to lodge amusing the inmates
with traditional tales, histories of the wars and exploits of their
ancestors, or inventions of their own, which are sometimes in the form
of allegories or parables, and are either intended to teach some moral
lesson, or are extravagant inventions, having no other aim or purpose
but to excite wonder or amusement. The story-tellers are estimated
according to their eloquence and powers of invention, and are always
welcome, sure of the best place in the lodge, and the choicest mess of
food wherever they go. Some individuals, not story-tellers by
profession, possess and exercise these gifts of memory and invention.
Mrs. Schoolcraft mentioned an Indian living at the Sault-Ste-Marie, who
in this manner amuses and instructs his family almost every night before
they go to rest. Her own mother is also celebrated for her stock of
traditional lore, and her poetical and inventive faculties, which she
inherited from her father Waub-Ojeeg, who was the greatest poet and
story-teller, as well as the greatest warrior, of his tribe.

The stories I give you from Mrs. Schoolcraft's translation have at least
the merit of being genuine. Their very wildness and childishness, and
dissimilarity to all other fictions, will recommend them. The first
story was evidently intended to inculcate domestic union and brotherly

       *     *     *     *     *


It was a fine summer evening; the sun was scarcely an hour high, its
departing rays shone through the leaves of the tall elms that skirted a
little green knoll, whereon stood a solitary Indian lodge. The deep,
deep silence that reigned around seemed to the dwellers in that lonely
hut like the long sleep of death which was now about to close the eyes
of the chief of this poor family; his low breathing was answered by the
sighs and sobs of his wife and three children: two of the children were
almost grown up, one was yet a mere child. These were the only human
beings near the dying man: the door of the lodge[27] was thrown aside
to admit the refreshing breeze of the lake on the banks of which it
stood, and when the cool air visited the brow of the poor man, he felt a
momentary return of strength. Raising himself a little, he thus
addressed his weeping family:--

"I leave ye--I leave ye! thou who hast been my partner in life, thou
wilt not stay long behind me, thou wilt soon join me in the pleasant
land of spirits; therefore thou hast not long to suffer in this world.
But O my children, my poor children, you have just commenced life, and
unkindness, and ingratitude, and all wickedness, is in the scene before
you. I have contented myself with the company of your mother and
yourselves for many years, and you will find that my motive for
separating myself from other men has been to preserve you from evil
example. But I die content, if you, my children, promise me to love each
other, and on no account to forsake your youngest brother. Of him I give
you both particular charge--love him and cherish him."

The father then became exhausted, and taking a hand of each of his elder
children, he continued--"My daughter, never forsake your little brother!
my son, never forsake your little brother!"--'Never! never!' they both
exclaimed:--"Never! never!" repeated the father, and expired.

The poor man died happy, because he thought that his commands would be
obeyed: the sun sank down behind the trees and left a golden sky, which
the family were wont to behold with pleasure; but now no one heeded it.
The lodge, so still an hour before, was now filled with loud cries and

Time wore heavily away. Five long moons had passed, and the sixth was
nearly full, when the mother also died. In her last moments, she pressed
upon her children the fulfilment of their promise to their departed
father. They readily renewed this promise, because they were as yet free
from any selfish motives to break it. The winter passed away and spring
came. The girl being the eldest, directed her brothers, and seemed to
feel a more tender and sisterly affection for the youngest, who was
sickly and delicate. The other boy soon showed signs of selfishness,
and thus addressed his sister:--

"My sister, are we always to live as if there were no other human beings
in the world? Must I be deprived of the pleasure of associating with
men? I go to seek the villages of my brothers and my tribe. I have
resolved, and you prevent me."

The girl replied, "My brother, I do not say no to what you desire. We
were not forbidden to associate with men, but we were commanded to
cherish and never forsake each other--if we separate to follow our own
selfish desires, will it not oblige us to forsake him, our brother, whom
we are both bound to support?"

The young man made no answer to this remonstrance, but taking up his bow
and arrows, he left the wigwam and returned no more.

Many moons had come and gone after the young man's departure, and still
the girl ministered kindly and constantly to the wants of her little
brother. At length, however, she too began to weary of solitude and her
charge. Years added to her strength and her power of providing for the
household wants, but also brought the desire of society, and made her
solitude more and more irksome. At last she became quite impatient; she
thought only of herself, and cruelly resolved to abandon her little
brother, as her elder brother had done before.

One day, after having collected all the provisions she had set apart for
emergencies, and brought a quantity of wood to the door, she said to her
little brother, "My brother, you must not stray far from the lodge. I am
going to seek our brother, I shall soon be back." Then taking her
bundle, she set off in search of the habitations of men. She soon found
them, and became so much occupied with the pleasures of her new life,
that all affection and remembrance of her brother were by degrees
effaced from her heart. At last she was married, and after _that_ she
never more thought of her poor helpless little brother, whom she had
abandoned in the woods.

In the mean time the eldest brother had also settled on the shores of
the same lake, near which reposed the bones of his parents, and the
abode of his forsaken brother.

Now, as soon as the little boy had eaten all the provisions left by his
sister, he was obliged to pick berries and dig up roots for food. Winter
came on, and the poor child was exposed to all its rigour; the snow
covered the earth; he was forced to quit the lodge in search of food,
and strayed about without shelter or home: sometimes he passed the night
in the clefts of old trees, and ate the fragments left by the wolves.
Soon he had no other resource; and in seeking for food he became so
fearless of these animals, that he would sit close to them while they
devoured their prey, and the fierce hungry wolves themselves seemed to
pity his condition, and would always leave something for him. Thus he
lived on the bounty of the wolves till the spring. As soon as the lake
was free from ice, he followed his new friends and companions to the
shore. Now it happened that his brother was fishing in his canoe, out
far on the lake, when he thought he heard a cry as of a child, and
wondered how any one could exist on the bleak shore. He listened again
more attentively, and heard the cry repeated, and he paddled towards the
shore as quickly as possible, and there he beheld and recognised his
little brother, whom he heard singing in a plaintive voice:--

  "Neesya, neesya, shyegwich gushuh!
  Ween, ne myeeguniwh!"

That is, "my brother, my brother, I am now turning into a wolf, I am
turning into a wolf." At the end of his song he howled like a wolf, and
his brother approaching, was dismayed to find him half a wolf and half a
human being. He however leaped to the shore, strove to catch him in his
arms, and said, soothingly, "My brother, my brother, come to me!" But
the boy eluded his grasp and fled, still singing as he fled, "I am
turning into a wolf! I am turning into a wolf!" and howling frightfully
at the end of his song.

His elder brother, conscious-struck, and feeling all his love return,
exclaimed in anguish, "My brother, O my brother, come to me!" but the
nearer he approached the child the more rapidly the transformation
proceeded. Still he sung, and howling called upon his brother and sister
alternately in his song, till the change was complete, and he fled
towards the wood a perfect wolf. At last he cried, "I am a wolf!" and
bounded out of sight.

The young man felt the bitterness of remorse all his days; and the
sister, when she heard the fate of her little brother whom she had
promised to protect and cherish, wept many tears, and never ceased to
mourn him till she died.

The next story seems intended to admonish parental ambition, and
inculcate filial obedience. The bird here called the robin is three
times as large as the English robin redbreast, but in its form and
habits very similar.

[Footnote 27: The skin or blanket suspended before the opening.]

       *     *     *     *     *


An old man had an only son, a fine promising lad, who had arrived at
that age when the Chippewas thought it proper to make the long and final
fast which is to secure through life a guardian spirit, on whom future
prosperity or adversity are to depend, and who forms the character to
great and noble deeds.[28]

This old man was ambitious that his son should surpass all others in
whatever was deemed most wise and great among his tribe; and to this
effect he thought it necessary that his son should fast a much longer
time than any of those persons celebrated for their uncommon power or
wisdom, and whose fame he envied.

He therefore directed his son to prepare with great ceremony for the
important event: after he had been in the bath several times, he ordered
him to lie down on a clean mat in a little lodge, expressly prepared for
him, telling him at the same time to bear himself like a man, and that
at the expiration of twelve days he should receive food and his
father's blessing.

The youth carefully observed these injunctions, lying with his face
covered, with perfect composure, awaiting those spiritual visitations
which were to seal his good or evil fortune. His father visited him
every morning regularly to encourage him to perseverance--expatiating on
the renown and honour which would attend him through life, if he
accomplished the full term prescribed. To these exhortations the boy
never replied, but lay still without a murmur till the ninth day, when
he thus addressed his father--"My father, my dreams are ominous of evil.
May I break my fast now, and at a more propitious time make a new fast?"

The father answered--"My son, you know not what you ask; if you rise
now, all your glory will depart. Wait patiently a little longer, you
have but three days yet to accomplish what I desire: you know it is for
your own good."

The son assented, and covering himself up close, he lay till the
eleventh day, when he repeated his request to his father. But the same
answer was given by the old man, who, however, added that the next day
he would himself prepare his first meal, and bring it to him. The boy
remained silent, and lay like death. No one could have known he was
living, but by the gentle heaving of his breast.

The next morning, the father, elate at having gained his object,
prepared a repast for his son, and hastened to set it before him. On
coming to the door, he was surprised to hear his son talking to himself;
he stooped to listen, and looking through a small aperture, he was more
astonished when he saw his son painted with vermillion on his breast,
and in the act of finishing his work by laying on the paint as far as
his hand could reach on his shoulders, saying at the same time, "My
father has destroyed me as a man--he would not listen to my request--he
will now be the loser, while I shall be for ever happy in my new state,
since I have been obedient to my parent. He alone will be a sufferer,
for the Spirit is a just one, though not propitious to me. He has shown
me pity, and now I must go!"

At that moment the father, in despair, burst into the lodge, exclaiming,
"My son, my son, do not leave me." But his son, with the quickness of a
bird, had flown up to the top of the lodge, and perched upon the highest
pole, a beautiful Robin Redbreast. He looked down on his father with
pity beaming in his eyes, and told him he should always love to be near
man's dwellings--that he should always be seen happy and contented by
the constant sprightliness and joy he would display--and that he would
ever strive to cheer his father by his songs, which would be some
consolation to him for the loss of the glory he had expected--and that
although no longer a man, he would ever be the harbinger of peace and
joy to the human race.

[Footnote 28: This custom is universal among the Chippewas and their
kindred tribes. At a certain age, about twelve or fourteen, the youth or
girl is shut up in a separate lodge to fast and dream. The usual term is
from three to five or six days, or even longer. The object which during
this time is most frequently presented in sleep--the disturbed feverish
sleep of an exhausted frame and excited imagination--is the tutelary
spirit or manito of the future life: it is the sun or moon or evening
star; an eagle, a moose deer, a crane, a bat, &c. Wa,wa,tam, the Indian
friend of Henry the traveller, had dreamed of a white man, whom the
Great Spirit brought to him in his hand and presented as his brother.
This dream saved Henry's life.]

       *     *     *     *     *


It is a mistake to suppose that these Indians are idolaters; heathens
and pagans you may call them if you will; but the belief in one Great
Spirit, who created all things, and is paramount to all things, and the
belief in the distinction between body and soul, and the immortality of
the latter--these two sublime principles pervade their wildest
superstitions; but though none doubt of a future state, they have no
distinct or universal tenets with regard to the condition of the soul
after death. Each individual seems to have his own thoughts on the
subject, and some doubtless never think about it at all. In general,
however, their idea of a paradise (the land of spirits) is some far off
country towards the south-west, abounding in sunshine, and placid lakes,
and rivers full of fish, and forests full of game, whither they are
transported by the Great Spirit, and where those who are separated on
earth meet again in happiness, and part no more.

Not only man, but everything animate, is spirit, and destined to
immortality. According to the Indians, (and Sir Humphry Davy,) nothing
dies, nothing is destroyed; what we look upon as death and destruction
is only transition and change. The ancients, it is said--for I cannot
speak from my own knowledge--without telescopes or logarithms, divined
the grandest principles of astronomy, and calculated the revolutions of
the planets; and so these Indians, who never heard of philosophy or
chemistry, have contrived to hit upon some of the profoundest truths in
physics and metaphysics; but they seem content, like Jaques, "to praise
God, and make no boast of it."

In some things, it is true, they are as far as possible from orthodox.
Their idea of a hell seems altogether vague and negative. It consists in
a temporary rejection from the land of good spirits, in a separation
from lost relatives and friends, in being doomed to wander up and down
desolately, having no fixed abode, weary, restless, and melancholy. To
how many is the Indian hell already realised on this earth? Physical
pain, or any pain which calls for the exercise of courage, and which it
is manliness to meet and endure, does not apparently enter into their
notions of _punishment_. They believe in evil spirits, but the idea of
_the_ Evil _Spirit_, a permitted agency of evil and mischief, who
divides with the Great Spirit the empire of the universe--who
contradicts or renders nugatory His will, and takes especially in hand
the province of tormenting sinners--of the devil, in short, they
certainly had not an idea, till it was introduced by Europeans.[29]
Those Indians whose politeness will not allow them to contradict this
article of the white man's faith, still insist that the place of eternal
torment was never intended for the Red-skins, the especial favourites of
the Great Spirit, but for white men _only_.

[Footnote 29: History of the Moravian Missions. Mr. Schoolcraft].


Formerly it was customary with Chippewas to bury many articles with the
dead, such as would be useful on their journey to the land of spirits.

Henry describes in a touching manner the interment of a young girl, with
an axe, snow-shoes, a small kettle, several pairs of moccasins, her own
ornaments, and strings of beads; and, because it was a female--destined,
it seems, to toil and carry burthens in the other world as well as
this--the _carrying-belt_ and the paddle. The last act before the
burial, performed by the poor mother, crying over the dead body of the
child, was that of taking from it a lock of hair for a memorial. "While
she did this," says Henry, "I endeavoured to console her by offering the
usual arguments, that the child was happy in being released from the
miseries of this life, and that she should forbear to grieve, because it
would be restored to her in another world, happy and everlasting. She
answered, that she knew it well, and that by the lock of hair she should
know her daughter in the other world, for she would _take it with
her_--alluding to the time when this relic, with the carrying-belt and
axe, would be placed in her own grave."

This custom of burying property with the dead was formerly carried to
excess from the piety and generosity of surviving friends, until a
chief, greatly respected and admired among them for his bravery and
talents, took an ingenious method of giving his people a lesson. He was
seized with a fit of illness, and after a few days expired, or seemed to
expire. But after lying in this death-trance for some hours, he came to
life again, and recovering his voice and senses, he informed his friends
that he had been half-way to the land of spirits; that he found the road
thither crowded with the souls of the dead, all so heavily laden with
the guns, kettles, axes, blankets, and other articles buried with them,
that their journey was retarded, and they complained grievously of the
burthens which the love of their friends had laid on them. "I will tell
you," said Gitchee Gauzinee, for that was his name, "our fathers have
been wrong; they have buried too many things with the dead. It is too
burthensome to them, and they have complained to me bitterly. There are
many who, by reason of the heavy loads they bear, have not yet reached
the land of spirits. Clothing will be very acceptable to the dead, also
his moccasins to travel in, and his pipe to refresh him on the way; but
let his other possessions be divided among his relatives and friends."

This sensible hint was taken in good part. The custom of kindling a fire
on the grave, to light the departed spirit on its road to the land of
the dead, is very general, and will remind you of the oriental customs.


A Chippewa chief, heading his war party against the Sioux, received an
arrow in his breast, and fell. No warrior thus slain is ever buried.
According to ancient custom, he was placed in a sitting posture, with
his back against a tree, his face towards his flying enemies; his
head-dress, ornaments, and all his war-equipments, were arranged, with
care, and thus he was left. But the chief was not dead; though he could
neither move nor speak, he was sensible to all that passed. When he
found himself abandoned by his friends as one dead, he was seized with a
paroxysm of rage and anguish. When they took leave of him, lamenting, he
rose up and followed them, but they saw him not. He pursued their track,
and wheresoever they went, he went; when they ran, he ran; when they
encamped and slept, he did the like; but he could not eat with them, and
when he spoke they heard him not. "Is it possible," he cried, exalting
his voice, "that my brothers do not see me--do not hear me? Will you
suffer me to bleed to death without stanching my wounds? will you let me
starve in the midst of food? have my fellow-warriors already forgotten
me? is there none who will recollect my face, or offer me a morsel of
flesh?" Thus he lamented and upbraided, but the sound of his voice
reached them not. If they heard it at all they mistook it for that of
the summer wind rustling among the leaves.

The war party returned to the village: the women and children came out
to welcome them. The chief heard the inquiries for himself, and the
lamentations of his friends and relatives over his death. "It is not
true!" he shrieked with a loud voice, "I am not dead,--I was not left on
the field; I am here! I live! I move! see me! touch me! I shall again
raise my spear in the battle, and sound my drum at the feast!" But no
one heeded him; they mistook his voice for the wind rising and whistling
among the boughs. He walked to his wigwam, and found his wife tearing
her hair, and weeping for his death. He tried to comfort her, but she
seemed insensible of his presence. He besought her to bind up his
wounds--she moved not. He put his mouth close to her ear, and shouted,
"I am hungry, give me food!" She thought she heard a mosquito buzzing in
her ear. The chief, enraged past endurance, now summoned all his
strength, and struck her a violent blow on the temple; on which she
raised her hand to her head, and remarked, "I feel a slight aching

When the chief beheld these things, he began to reflect that possibly
his body might have remained on the field of battle, while only his
spirit was among his friends; so he determined to go back and seek his
body. It was four days' journey thither, and on the last day, just as he
was approaching the spot, he saw a flame in the path before him; he
endeavoured to step aside and pass it, but was still opposed; whichever
way he turned, still it was before him. "Thou spirit," he exclaimed in
anger, "why dost thou oppose me? knowest thou not that I too am a
spirit, and seek only to re-enter my body? thinkest thou to make me turn
back? Know that I was never conquered by the enemies of my nation, and
will not be conquered by thee!" So saying, he made an effort, and leapt
through the opposing flame. He found himself seated under a tree on the
field of battle, in all his warlike array, his bow and arrows at his
side, just as he had been left by his friends, and looking up beheld a
great war-eagle seated on the boughs; it was the manito of whom he had
dreamed in his youth, his tutelary spirit who had kept watch over his
body for eight days, and prevented the ravenous beasts and carrion birds
from devouring it. In the end, he bound up his wounds and sustained
himself by his bow and arrows, until he reached his village; there he
was received with transport by his wife and friends, and concluded his
account of his adventures by telling them that it is four days' journey
to the land of spirits, and that the spirit stood in need of a fire
every night; therefore the friends and relatives should build the
funeral fire for four nights upon the grave, otherwise the spirit would
be obliged to build and tend the fire itself,--a task which is always
considered slavish and irksome.

Such is the tradition by which the Chippewas account for the custom of
lighting the funeral fire.


The Indians have a very fanciful mythology, which would make exquisite
machinery for poetry. It is quite distinct from the polytheism of the
Greeks. The Greek mythology personified all nature, and materialised all
abstractions: the Indians spiritualise all nature. They do not indeed
place dryads and fauns in their woods, nor naiads in their streams; but
every tree has a spirit; every rock, every river, every star that
glistens, every wind that breathes, has a spirit; every thing they
cannot comprehend is a spirit: this is the ready solution of every
mystery, or rather makes every thing around them a mystery as great as
the blending of soul and body in humanity. A watch, a compass, a gun,
have each their spirit. The thunder is an angry spirit; the aurora
borealis, dancing and rejoicing spirits; the milky way is the path of
spirits. Birds, perhaps from their aerial movements, they consider as in
some way particularly connected with the invisible world of spirits. Not
only all animals have souls, but it is the settled belief of the
Chippewa Indians that their souls will fare the better in another world,
in the precise ratio that their lives and enjoyments are curtailed in
this: hence, they have no remorse in hunting; but when they have killed
a bear or rattle-snake, they solemnly beg his pardon, and excuse
themselves on the plea of necessity.

Besides this general _spiritualisation_ of the whole universe, which to
an Indian is all spirit in diversity of forms (how delighted Bishop
Berkeley would have been with them!), they have certain mythologic
existences. Manabozho is a being very analogous to the Seeva of the
Hindoo mythology. The four cardinal points are spirits, the west being
the oldest and the father of the others, by a beautiful girl, who, one
day while bathing, suffered the west wind to blow upon her. Weeng is the
spirit of sleep, with numerous little subordinate spirits, his
emissaries, whose employment is to close the eyes of mortals, and by
tapping on their foreheads _knock_ them to sleep. Then they have
Weendigos--great giants and cannibals, like the Ascaparts and Morgantes
of the old romances; and little tiny spirits or fairies, which haunt
the woods and cataracts. The Nibanàba, half human half fish, dwell in
the waters of Lake Superior. Ghosts are plentiful, and so are
transformations, as you have seen. The racoon was once a shell lying on
the lake shore, and vivified by the sun-beams: the Indian name of the
racoon, _aisebun_, is literally, _he was a shell_. The brains of a
wicked adulteress, whose skull was beaten to pieces against the rocks,
as it tumbled down a cataract, became the white fish.[30]

As to the belief in sorcery, spells, talismans, incantations, all which
go by the general name of _medicine_, it is unbounded. Henry mentions,
that among the goods which some traders took up the country to exchange
for furs, they had a large collection of the little rude prints,
published for children, at a halfpenny a piece--I recollect such when I
was a child. They sold these at a high price, for _medicines_ (_i. e._
talismans), and found them a very profitable and popular article of
commerce. One of these, a little print of a sailor kissing his
sweetheart, was an esteemed _medicine_ among the young, and eagerly
purchased for a love-spell. A soldier presenting his gun, or brandishing
his sabre, was a medicine to promote warlike courage--and so on.

The medicines and manitos of the Indians will remind you of the fetishes
of the negroes.

[Footnote 30: I have heard the particulars of this wild story of the
origin of the white-fish, but cannot remember them. I think the woman
was put to death by her sons. Most of the above particulars I learned
from oral communication, and from some of the papers published by Mr.
Schoolcraft. This gentleman and others instituted a society at Detroit
(1832), called the _Algic Society_, for "evangelising the north-western
tribes, inquiring into their history and superstitions, and promoting
education, agriculture, industry, peace, and temperance among them."]

With regard to the belief in omens and incantations, I should like to
see it ascertained how far we civilised Christians, with all our
schools, our pastors, and our masters, are in advance of these
(so-called) savages?[31]

  Who would believe that with a smile, whose blessing
    Would, like the patriarch's, soothe a dying hour;
  With voice as low, as gentle, as caressing,
    As e'er won maiden's lip in moonlit bower;
  With look, like patient Job's, eschewing evil;
    With motions graceful as a bird's in air;
  Thou art, in sober truth, the veriest devil,
    That e'er clench'd fingers in a captive's hair!--Halleck.

Mr. Johnson tells me, what pleases me much, that the Indians like me,
and are gratified by my presence, and the interest I express for them,
and that I am the subject of much conversation and speculation. Being in
manners and complexion unlike the European women they have been
accustomed to see, they have given me, he says, a name among themselves
expressive of the most obvious characteristic in my appearance, and call
me the _white_ or _fair English chieftainess_ (Ogima-quay). I go among
them quite familiarly, and am always received with smiling good-humour.
With the assistance of a few words, as ninni, a man; minno, good;
mudjee, bad; mee gwedge, thank you; maja, good-bye; with nods, smiles,
signs, and friendly hand-taking,--we hold most eloquent conversations.
Even the little babies smile at me out of their comical cradles, slung
at their mothers' backs, and with the help of beads and lolly-pops from
the village store, I get on amazingly well; only when asked for some
"English milk" (rum or whisky), I frown as much as I can, and cry
Mudjee! Mudjee! bad! bad! then they laugh, and we are friends again.

The scenes I at first described are of constant reiteration. Every
morning when I leave my room and come out into the porch, I have to
exchange _bo-jou!_ and shake hands with some twenty or thirty of my
dingy, dusky, greasy, painted, blanketed smiling friends: but to-day we
have had some new scenes.

First, however, I forgot to tell you that yesterday afternoon there came
in a numerous fleet of canoes, thirty or forty at least; and the wind
blowing fresh from the west, each with its square blanket sail came
scudding over the waters with astonishing velocity; it was a beautiful
sight. Then there was the usual bustle, and wigwam building,
fire-lighting and cooking, all along the shore, which is now excessively
crowded: and yelling, shouting, drinking and dancing at the whisky
store. But all this I have formerly described to you.

[Footnote 31: "One of the most distinguished men of the age, who has
left a reputation which will be as lasting as it is great, was, when a
boy, in constant fear of a very able but unmerciful schoolmaster, and in
the state of mind which that constant fear produced, he fixed upon a
great spider for his fetish (or manito), and used every day to pray to
it that he might not be flogged."--_The Doctor_, vol. v.

When a child, I was myself taken to a witch (or medicine woman) to be
cured of an accidental burn by charms and incantations. I was then about
six years old, and have a very distinct recollection of the whole
scene, which left a strong and frightful impression on my childish


I presume it was in consequence of these new arrivals that we had a
grand _talk_ or council after breakfast this morning, at which I was
permitted to be present, or, as the French say, to _assist_.

There were fifty-four of their chiefs, or rather chief men, present, and
not less that two hundred Indians round the house, their dark eager
faces filling up the windows and doorways; but they were silent, quiet,
and none but those first admitted attempted to enter. All as they came
up took my hand: some I had seen before, and some were entire strangers,
but there was no look of surprise, and all was ease and grave
self-possession: a set of more perfect gentlemen, in _manner_, I never
met with.

The council was convened to ask them if they would consent to receive
goods instead of dollars in payment of the pensions due to them on the
sale of their lands, and which, by the conditions of sale, were to be
paid in money. So completely do the white men reckon on having
everything their own way with the poor Indians, that a trader had
contracted with the government to supply the goods which the Indians had
not yet consented to receive, and was actually now on the island, having
come with me in the steamer.

As the chiefs entered, they sat down on the floor. The principal person
was a venerable old man with a bald head, who did not speak. The orator
of the party wore a long gray blanket-coat, crimson sash, and black
neckcloth, with leggings and moccasins. There was also a well-looking
young man dressed in the European fashion, and in black; he was of
mixed blood, French and Indian; he had been carried early to Europe by
the Catholic priests, had been educated in the Propaganda College at
Rome, and was lately come out to settle as a teacher and interpreter
among his people. He was the only person besides Mr. Schoolcraft who was
seated on a chair, and he watched the proceedings with great attention.
On examining one by one the assembled chiefs, I remarked five or six who
had good heads--well developed, intellectual, and benevolent. The old
chief, and my friend the Rain, were conspicuous among them, and also an
old man with a fine square head and lofty brow, like the picture of
Red-jacket[32], and a young man with a pleasing countenance, and two
scalps hung as ornaments to his belt. Some faces were mild and vacant,
some were stupid and coarse, but in none was there a trace of insolence
or ferocity, or of that vile expression I have seen in a depraved
European of the lowest class. The worst physiognomy was that of a famous
medicine-man--it was mean and cunning. Not only the countenances but the
features differed; even the distinct characteristics of the Indian, the
small deep-set eye, breadth of face and high cheek-bones, were not
universal: there were among them regular features, oval faces, aquiline
noses. One chief had a head and face which reminded me strongly of the
Marquis Wellesley. All looked dirty, grave, and picturesque, and most of
them, on taking their seats on the ground, pulled out their
tobacco-pouches and lighted their wooden pipes.

The proposition made to them was evidently displeasing. The orator,
after whispering with the chief, made a long and vehement speech in a
loud emphatic voice, and at every pause the auditors exclaimed, "Hah!"
in sign of approbation. I remarked that he sometimes made a jest which
called forth a general smile, even from the interpreter and Mr.
Schoolcraft. Only a few sentences were translated: from which I
understood that they all considered this offer as a violation of the
treaty which their great father at Washington, the president, had made
with them. They did not want goods,--they wanted the stipulated dollars.
Many of their young men had procured goods from the traders on credit,
and depended on the money due to them to discharge their debts; and, in
short, the refusal was distinct and decided. I am afraid, however, it
will not avail them much.[33] The mean, petty-trader style in which the
American officials make (and _break_) their treaties with the Indians is
shameful. I met with none who attempted to deny it or excuse it. Mr.
Schoolcraft told me that during the time he had been Indian agent
(five-and-twenty years) he had never known the Indians to violate a
treaty or break a promise. He could not say the same of his government,
and the present business appeared most distasteful to him; but he was
obliged to obey the order from the head of his department.

The Indians themselves make witty jests on the bad faith of the "Big
Knives."[34] "My father!" said a distinguished Pottowottomie chief at
the treaty of Chicago--"my father, you have made several promises to
your red children, and you have put the money down upon the table: but
as fast as you put it upon the top, it has slipped away to the bottom,
in a manner that is incomprehensible to us. We do not know what becomes
of it. When we get together, and divide it among ourselves, it is
nothing! and we remain as poor as ever. My father, I only explain to you
the words of my brethren. We can only see what is before our eyes, and
are unable to comprehend all things." Then pointing to a newspaper which
lay on the table--"You see that paper on the table before you--it is
double. You can see what is upon the upper sheet, but you cannot see
what is below. We cannot tell how our money goes!"

On the present occasion, two orators spoke, and the council lasted above
two hours: but I left the room long before the proceedings were over. I
must needs confess it to you--I cannot overcome one disagreeable
obstacle to a near communion with these people. The genuine Indian has a
very peculiar odour, unlike anything of the kind that ever annoyed my
fastidious senses. One ought to get over these things; and after all it
is not so offensive as it is peculiar. You have probably heard that
horses brought up in the white settlements can smell an Indian at a
great distance, and show evident signs of perturbation and terror
whenever they snuff an Indian in the air. For myself, in passing over
the place on which a lodge has stood, and whence it has been removed
several hours, though it was the hard pebbly beach on the water edge, I
could scent the Indian in the atmosphere. You can imagine, therefore,
that fifty of them in one room, added to the smell of their tobacco,
which is detestable, and the smoking and all its unmentionable
consequences, drove me from the spot. The truth is, that a woman of very
delicate and fastidious habits must learn to endure some very
disagreeable things, or she had best stay at home.

[Footnote 32: The picture by Weir, in the possession of Samuel Ward,
Esq., of New York, which see--or rather see the beautiful lines of

  "If he were with me, King of Tuscarora!
    Gazing as I upon thy portrait now,
  In all its medalled, fring'd, and beaded glory,
    Its eyes' dark beauty and its tranquil brow--
  Its brow, half martial, and half diplomatic,
    Its eye, upsoaring like an eagle's wings--
  Well might he boast that we, the democratic,
    Outrival Europe, even in our kings!"]

[Footnote 33: Since my return to England I found the following passage
in the Morning Chronicle, extracted from the American papers:----"The
Indians of Michigan have committed several shocking murders, in
consequence of the payments due to them on land-treaties being made in
goods instead of money. Serious alarm on that subject prevails in the

The wretched individuals murdered were probably settlers, quite innocent
in this business, probably women and children; but such is the
_well-known_ Indian law of retaliation.]

[Footnote 34: The Indians gave the name of Cheemokomaun (Long Knives, or
_Big Knives_) to the Americans at the time they were defeated by General
Wayne, near the Miami river, in 1795, and suffered so severely from the
_sabres_ of the cavalry.]


In the afternoon Mr. Johnson informed me that the Indians were preparing
to dance, for my particular amusement. I was, of course, most thankful
and delighted. Almost in the same moment, I heard their yells and
shrieks resounding along the shore, mingled with the measured monotonous
drum. We had taken our place on an elevated platform behind the house--a
kind of little lawn on the hill-side;--the precipitous rocks, clothed
with trees and bushes, rose high like a wall above us: the glorious
sunshine of a cloudless summer's day was over our heads--the dazzling
blue lake and its islands at our feet. Soft and elysian in its beauty
was all around. And when these wild and more than half-naked figures
came up, leaping, whooping, drumming, shrieking, hideously painted, and
flourishing clubs, tomahawks, javelins, it was like a masque of fiends
breaking into paradise! The rabble of Comus might have boasted
themselves comely in comparison, even though no self-deluding potion had
bleared their eyes and intellect. It was a grotesque and horrible
phantasmagoria. Of their style of clothing, I say nothing--for, as it is
wisely said, nothing can come of _nothing:_--only if "all symbols be
clothes," according to a great modern philosopher--my Indian friends
were as little symbolical as you can dare to imagine:--_passons par là_.
If the blankets and leggings were thrown aside, all the resources of the
Indian toilette, all their store of feathers, and bears' claws, hawks'
bells, vermilion, soot, and verdigris, were brought into requisition as
decoration: and no two were alike. One man wore three or four heads of
hair, composed of the manes and tails of animals; another wore a pair of
deers' horns; another was _coiffé_ with the skins and feathers of a
crane or some such bird--its long bill projecting from his forehead;
another had the shell of a small turtle suspended from his back, and
dangling behind; another used the skin of a polecat for the same
purpose. One had painted his right leg with red bars, and his left leg
with green lines: parti-coloured eyes and faces, green noses, and blue
chins, or _vice versâ_, were general. I observed that in this grotesque
deformity, in the care with which every thing like symmetry or harmony
in form or colours was avoided, there was something evidently studied
and artistical. The orchestra was composed of two drums and two rattles,
and a chorus of voices. The song was without melody--a perpetual
repetition of three or four notes, melancholy, harsh, and monotonous. A
flag was stuck in the ground, and round this they began their dance--if
dance it could be called,--the movements consisting of the alternate
raising of one foot, then the other, and swinging the body to and fro.
Every now and then they paused, and sent forth that dreadful, prolonged,
tremulous yell, which re-echoed from the cliffs, and pierced my ears and
thrilled along my nerves. The whole exhibition was of that finished
barbarism, that it was at least _complete_ in its way, and for a time I
looked on with curiosity and interest. But that innate loathing which
dwells within me for all that is discordant and deformed, rendered it
anything but pleasant to witness. It grated horribly upon all my
perceptions. In the midst, one of those odd and unaccountable
transitions of thought caused, by some mental or physical re-action--the
law which brings extremes in contrast together--came across me. I was
reminded that even on this very day last year I was seated in a box at
the opera, looking at Carlotta Grisi and Perrot dancing, or rather
flying through the galoppe in "Benyowsky." The oddity of this sudden
association made me laugh, which being interpreted into the expression
of my highest approbation, they became every moment more horribly
ferocious and animated; redoubled the vigour of their detestably awkward
movements and the shrillness of their savage yells, till I began
involuntarily to look about for some means of escape--but this would
have been absolutely rude, and I restrained myself.

I should not forget to mention that the figures of most of the men were
superb; more agile and elegant, however, than muscular, more fitted for
the chase than for labour, with small and well-formed hands and feet.
When the dance was ended, a young warrior, leaving the group, sat
himself down on a little knoll to rest. His spear lay across his knees,
and he reposed his head upon his hand. He was not painted, except with a
little vermilion on his chest, and on his head he wore only the wing of
the osprey. He sat there, a model for a sculptor. The perfection of his
form, the graceful abandonment of his attitude, reminded me of a young
Mercury, or of Thorwaldsen's "Shepherd Boy." I went up to speak to him,
and thanked him for his exertions in the dance, which indeed had been
conspicuous; and then, for want of something else to say, I asked him if
he had a wife and children? The whole expression of his face suddenly
changed, and with an air as tenderly coy as that of a young girl
listening to the first whisper of a lover, he looked down and answered
softly, "Kah-ween!"--No, indeed! Feeling that I had for the first time
embarrassed an Indian, I withdrew, really as much out of countenance as
the youth himself. I did not ask him his name, for that were a violation
of the Indian form of good breeding, but I learn that he is called _the
Pouncing Hawk_. West's comparison of the Apollo Belvedere to a young
Mohawk warrior has more of likelihood and reasonableness than I ever
believed or acknowledged before.

A keg of tobacco and a barrel of flour were given to them, and they
dispersed as they came, drumming, and yelling and leaping, and
flourishing their clubs and war hatchets.

       *     *     *     *     *

In the evening we paddled in a canoe over to the opposite island, with
the intention of landing and looking at the site of an intended
missionary settlement for the Indians. But no sooner did the keel of our
canoe touch the woody shore than we were enveloped in a cloud of
mosquitoes. It was in vain to think of dislodging the enemy, and after
one or two attempts we were fairly beaten back. Mackinaw, as seen from
hence, has exactly the form its name implies, that of a large turtle
sleeping on the water. I believe Mackinaw is merely the abbreviation of
Michilimackinac, _the great turtle_. It was a mass of purple shadow; and
just at one extremity the sun plunged into the lake, leaving its
reflection on the water, like the skirts of a robe of fire, floating.
This too vanished, and we returned in the soft calm twilight, singing as
we went.

       *     *     *     *     *

                                                                July 29.

Where was I? Where did I leave off four days ago? O--at Mackinaw! that
fairy island, which I shall never see again, and which I should have
dearly liked to filch from the Americans, and carry home to you in my
dressing-box, or, perdie, in my toothpick case; but, good lack, to see
the ups and downs of this (new) world. I take up my tale a hundred
miles from it; but before I tell you where I am now, I must take you
over the ground, or rather over the water, in a proper and journal-like


I was sitting last Friday, at sultry noon-tide, under the shadow of a
schooner which had just anchored alongside the little pier--sketching
and dreaming--when up came a messenger, breathless, to say that a boat
was going off for the Sault-Sainte-Marie, in which I could be
accommodated with a passage. Now this was precisely what I had been
wishing and waiting for, and yet I heard the information with an emotion
of regret. I had become every day more attached to the society of Mrs.
Schoolcraft, more interested about her; and the idea of parting, and
parting suddenly, took me by surprise, and was anything but agreeable.
On reaching the house, I found all in movement, and learned, to my
inexpressible delight, that my friend would take the opportunity of
paying a visit to her mother and family, and, with her children, was to
accompany me on my voyage.

We had but one hour to prepare packages, provisions, everything--and in
one hour all was ready.

This voyage of two days was to be made in a little Canadian bateau,
rowed by five _voyageurs_ from the Sault. The boat might have carried
fifteen persons, hardly more, and was rather clumsy in form. The two
ends were appropriated to the rowers, baggage, and provisions; in the
centre there was a clear space, with a locker on each side, on which we
sat or reclined, having stowed away in them our smaller and more
valuable packages. This was the internal arrangement.

The distance to the Sault, or, as the Americans call it, the _Sou_, is
not more than thirty miles over land, as the bird flies; but the whole
region being one mass of tangled forest and swamp, infested with bears
and mosquitoes, it is seldom crossed but in winter, and in snow-shoes.
The usual route by water is ninety-four miles.

At three o'clock in the afternoon, with a favourable breeze, we launched
forth on the lake, and having rowed about a mile from the shore, the
little square sail was hoisted, and away we went merrily over the blue


For a detailed account of the _voyageurs_, or Canadian boatmen, their
peculiar condition and mode of life, I refer you to Washington Irving's
"Astoria." What he describes them to _have been_, and what Henry
represents them in his time, they are even now, in these regions of the
upper lakes.[35] But the voyageurs in our boat were not favourable
specimens of their very amusing and peculiar class. They were fatigued
with rowing for three days previous, and had only two helpless women to
deal with. As soon, therefore, as the sail was hoisted, two began to
play cards on the top of a keg, the other two went to sleep. The
youngest and most intelligent of the set, a lively half-breed boy of
eighteen, took the helm. He told us with great self-complacency that he
was _captain_, and that it was already the third time that he had been
elected by his comrades to this dignity; but I cannot say he had a very
obedient crew.

[Footnote 35: As I shall have much to say hereafter of this peculiar
class of people, to save both reader and author time and trouble, the
passage is here given:--

"The voyageurs form a kind of confraternity in the Canadas, like the
arrieros or carriers of Spain. The dress of these people is generally
half civilised, half savage. They wear a capote or surcoat, made of a
blanket, a striped cotton shirt, cloth trowsers or leathern leggings,
moccasins of deer-skin, and a belt of variegated worsted, from which are
suspended the knife, tobacco-pouch, and other articles. Their language
is of the same piebald character, being a French patois embroidered with
English and Italian words and phrases. They are generally of French
descent, and inherit much of the gaiety and lightness of heart of their
ancestors; they inherit, too, a fund of civility and complaisance, and
instead of that hardness and grossness, which men in laborious life are
apt to indulge towards each other, they are mutually obliging and
accommodating, interchanging kind offices, yielding each other
assistance and comfort in every emergency, and using the familiar
appellations of _cousin_ and _brother_, when there is in fact no
relationship. No men are more submissive to their leaders and employers,
more capable of enduring hardships, or more good-humoured under
privations. Never are they so happy as when on long and rough
expeditions, towing up rivers or coasting lakes. They are dexterous
boatmen, vigorous and adroit with the oar or paddle, and will row from
morning till night without a murmur. The steersman often sings an old
French song with some regular burthen in which they all join, keeping
time with their oars. If at any time they flag in spirits or relax in
exertion, it is but necessary to strike up a song of this kind to put
them all in fresh spirits and activity."--Astoria, vol. i. chap. 4.]


About seven o'clock we landed to cook our supper on an island which is
commemorated by Henry as the Isle des Outardes, and is now Goose
Island. Mrs. Schoolcraft undertook the general management with all the
alertness of one accustomed to these impromptu arrangements, and I did
my best in my new vocation--dragged one or two blasted boughs to the
fire, the least of them twice as big as myself, and laid the cloth upon
the pebbly beach. The enormous fire was to keep off the mosquitoes, in
which we succeeded pretty well, swallowing, however, as much smoke as
would have dried us externally into hams or red herrings. We then
returned to the boat, spread a bed for the children (who were my
delight) in the bottom of it with mats and blankets, and disposed our
own, on the lockers on each side, with buffalo skins, blankets, shawls,
cloaks, and whatever was available, with my writing-case for a pillow.

After sunset, the breeze fell: the men were urged to row, but pleaded
fatigue, and that they were hired for the day, and not for the night
(which is the custom). One by one they sulkily abandoned their oars, and
sunk to sleep under their blankets, all but our young captain: like
Ulysses when steering away from Calypso--

  "Placed at the helm he sat, and watched the skies,
  Nor closed in sleep his ever-watchful eyes."

He kept himself awake by singing hymns, in which Mrs. Schoolcraft joined
him. I lay still, looking up at the stars and listening: when there was
a pause in the singing, we kept up the conversation, fearing lest sleep
should overcome our only pilot and guardian. Thus we floated on beneath
that divine canopy--"which love had spread to curtain the sleeping
world:" it was a most lovely and blessed night, bright and calm and
warm, and we made some little way, for both wind and current were in our

As we were coasting a little shadowy island, our captain mentioned a
strange circumstance, very illustrative of Indian life and character. A
short time ago a young Chippewa hunter, whom he knew, was shooting
squirrels on this spot, when by some chance a large blighted pine fell
upon him, knocking him down and crushing his leg, which was fractured in
two places. He could not rise, he could not remove the tree which was
lying across his broken leg. He was in a little uninhabited island,
without the slightest probability of passing aid; and to lie there and
starve to death in agonies, seemed all that was left to him. In this
dilemma, with all the fortitude and promptitude of resource of a
thorough-bred Indian, he took out his knife, cut off his own leg, bound
it up, dragged himself along the ground to his hunting canoe, and
paddled himself home to his wigwam on a distant island, where the cure
of his wound was completed. The man is still alive.

Perhaps this story appears incredible. I believe it firmly. At the time,
and since then, I heard other instances of Indian fortitude, and of
their courage and skill in performing some of the boldest and most
critical operations in surgery, which I really cannot venture to set
down. But I will mention one or two of the least marvellous. There was a
young chief, and famous hunter, whose arm was shattered by the bursting
of his rifle. No one would venture the amputation, and it was bound up
with certain herbs and dressings, accompanied with many magical
ceremonies. The young man, who seemed aware of the inefficacy of such
expedients, waited till the moment when he should be left alone. He had
meantime, with pain and difficulty, hatched one of his knives into a
saw; with this he completed the amputation of his own arm; and when his
relations appeared they found the arm lying at one end of the wigwam,
and the patient sitting at the other, with his wound bound up, and
smoking with great tranquillity.

       *     *     *     *     *


We remained in conversation till long after midnight; then the boat was
moored to a tree, but kept off shore, for fear of the mosquitoes, and we
addressed ourselves to sleep. I remember lying awake for some minutes,
looking up at the quiet stars, and around upon the dark weltering
waters, and at the faint waning moon, just suspended on the very edge of
the horizon. I saw it sink--sink into the bosom of the lake as if to
rest, and then with a thought of far-off friends, and a most fervent
thanksgiving, I dropped asleep. It is odd that I did not think of
praying for protection, and that no sense of fear came over me; it
seemed as if the eye of God himself looked down upon me; that I _was_
protected. I do not say I _thought_ this any more than the unweaned
child in its cradle; but I had some such feeling of unconscious trust
and love, now I recall those moments.

I slept, however, uneasily, not being yet accustomed to a board and a
blanket; _ça viendra avec le temps_. About dawn I awoke in a sort of
stupor, but after bathing my face and hands over the boat side, I felt
refreshed. The voyageurs, after a good night's rest, were in better
humour, and took manfully to their oars. Soon after sunrise, we passed
round that very conspicuous cape, famous in the history of north-west
adventure, called the "Grand Détour," half-way between Mackinaw and the
Sault. Now, if you look at the map, you will see that our course was
henceforth quite altered; we had been running down the coast of the
mainland towards the east; we had now to turn short round the point, and
steer almost due west; hence its most fitting name, the Grand Détour.
The wind, hitherto favourable, was now dead against us. This part of
Lake Huron is studded with little islands, which, as well as the
neighbouring mainland, are all uninhabited, yet clothed with the
richest, loveliest, most fantastic vegetation, and no doubt swarming
with animal life.

I cannot, I dare not, attempt to describe to you the strange sensation
one has, thus thrown for a time beyond the bounds of civilised humanity,
or, indeed, any humanity; nor the wild yet solemn reveries which come
over one in the midst of this wilderness of woods and waters. All was so
solitary, so grand in its solitude, as if nature unviolated sufficed to
herself. Two days and nights the solitude was unbroken; not a trace of
social life, not a human being, not a canoe, not even a deserted wigwam,
met our view. Our little boat held on its way over the placid lake, and
among green tufted islands; and we its inmates, two women, differing in
clime, nation, complexion, strangers to each other but a few days ago,
might have fancied ourselves alone in a new-born world.


We landed to boil our kettle, and breakfast on a point of the island of
St. Joseph's. This most beautiful island is between thirty and forty
miles in length, and nearly a hundred miles in circumference, and
towards the centre the land is high and picturesque. They tell me that
on the other side of the island there is a settlement of whites and
Indians. Another large island, Drummond's Isle, was for a short time in
view. We had also a settlement here, but it was unaccountably
surrendered to the Americans. If now you look at the map, you will
wonder, as I did, that in retaining St. Joseph's and the Manitoolin
islands, we gave up Drummond's Island. Both these islands had forts and
garrisons during the war.

By the time breakfast was over, the children had gathered some fine
strawberries; the heat had now become almost intolerable, and unluckily
we had no awning. The men rowed languidly, and we made but little way;
we coasted along the south shore of St. Joseph's, through fields of
rushes, miles in extent, across Lake George, and Muddy Lake (the name, I
thought, must be a libel, for it was as clear as crystal and as blue as
heaven; but they say that, like a sulky temper, the least ruffle of wind
turns it as black as ditchwater, and it does not subside again in a
hurry), and then came a succession of openings spotted with lovely
islands, all solitary. The sky was without a cloud, a speck--except when
the great fish-eagle was descried sailing over its blue depths--the
water without a wave. We were too hot and too languid to converse.
Nothing disturbed the deep noon-tide stillness, but the dip of the oars,
or the spring and splash of a sturgeon as he leapt from the surface of
the lake, leaving a circle of little wavelets spreading around. All the
islands we passed were so woody, and so infested with mosquitoes, that
we could not land and light our fire, till we reached the entrance of
St. Mary's River, between Nebish island and the mainland.


Here was a well-known spot, a sort of little opening on a flat shore,
called the _Encampment_, because a party of boatmen coming down from
Lake Superior, and camping here for the night, were surprised by the
frost, and obliged to remain the whole winter till the opening of the
ice, in the spring. After rowing all this hot day till seven o'clock
against the wind (what there was of it), and against the current coming
rapidly and strongly down from Lake Superior, we did at length reach
this promised harbour of rest and refreshment. Alas! there was neither
for us; the moment our boat touched the shore, we were enveloped in a
cloud of mosquitoes. Fires were lighted instantly, six were burning in a
circle at once; we were well nigh suffocated and smoke-dried--all in
vain. At last we left the voyageurs to boil the kettle, and retreated to
our boat, desiring them to make us fast to a tree by a long rope; then
each of us taking an oar--I only wish you could have seen us--we pushed
off from the land, while the children were sweeping away the enemy with
green boughs. This being done, we commenced supper, really half
famished, and were too much engrossed to look about us. Suddenly we were
again surrounded by our adversaries; they came upon us in swarms, in
clouds, in myriads, entering our eyes, our noses, our mouths, stinging
till the blood followed. We had, unawares, and while absorbed in our
culinary operations, drifted into the shore, got entangled among the
roots of trees, and were with difficulty extricated, presenting all the
time a fair mark and a rich banquet for our detested tormentors. The
dear children cried with agony and impatience, and but for shame I could
almost have cried too.

I had suffered from these plagues in Italy; you too, by this time, may
probably know what they are in the southern countries of the old world;
but 'tis a jest, believe me, to encountering a forest full of them in
these wild regions. I had heard much, and much was I forewarned, but
never could have conceived the torture they can inflict, nor the
impossibility of escape, defence, or endurance. Some amiable person who
took an especial interest in our future welfare, in enumerating the
torments prepared for hardened sinners, assures us that they will be
stung by mosquitoes, all made of brass, and as large as black
beetles--he was an ignoramus and a bungler; you may credit me, that the
brass is quite an unnecessary improvement, and the increase of size
equally superfluous. Mosquitoes, as they exist in this upper world, are
as pretty and perfect a plague as the most ingenious amateur
sinner-tormentor ever devised. Observe, that a mosquito does not sting
like a wasp, or a gad-fly; he has a long proboscis like an awl, with
which he bores your veins and pumps the life-blood out of you, leaving
venom and fever behind. Enough of mosquitoes--I will never again do more
than allude to them; only they are enough to make Philosophy go hang
herself, and Patience swear like a Turk or a trooper.

Well, we left this most detestable and inhospitable shore as soon as
possible, but the enemy followed us, and we did not soon get rid of
them; night came on, and we were still twenty miles below the Sault.


I offered an extra gratuity to the men, if they would keep to their oars
without interruption; and then, fairly exhausted, lay down on my locker
and blanket. But whenever I woke from uneasy, restless slumbers, _there_
was Mrs. Schoolcraft, bending over her sleeping children, and waving off
the mosquitoes, singing all the time a low, melancholy Indian song;
while the northern lights were streaming and dancing in the sky, and the
fitful moaning of the wind, the gathering clouds, and chilly atmosphere
foretold a change of weather. This would have been the _comble de
malheur_. When daylight came, we passed Sugar Island, where immense
quantities of maple sugar are made every spring, and just as the rain
began to fall in earnest we arrived at the Sault-Sainte-Marie. On one
side of the river, Mrs. Schoolcraft was welcomed by her mother; and on
the other, my friends, the MacMurrays, received me with delighted and
delightful hospitality. I went to bed--oh! the luxury!--and slept for
six hours.

       *     *     *     *     *

Enough of solemn reveries on starlit lakes--enough--too much--of self
and self-communings; I turn over a new leaf, and this shall be a chapter
of geography, and topography, natural philosophy, and such wise-like
things. Draw the curtain first, for if I look out any longer on those
surging rapids, I shall certainly turn giddy--forget all the memoranda
I have been collecting for you, lose my reckoning, and become
unintelligible to you and myself too.

This river of St. Mary is, like the Detroit and the St. Clair, already
described, properly a strait, the channel of communication between Lake
Superior and Lake Huron. About ten miles higher up, the great ocean-lake
narrows to a point; then, forcing a channel through the high lands,
comes rushing along till it meets with a downward ledge, or cliff, over
which it throws itself in foam and fury, tearing a path for its billows
through the rocks. The descent is about twenty-seven feet in three
quarters of a mile, but the rush begins above, and the tumult continues
below the fall, so that, on the whole, the eye embraces an expanse of
white foam measuring about a mile each way, the effect being exactly
that of the ocean breaking on a rocky shore: not so terrific, nor on so
large a scale, as the rapids of Niagara, but quite as beautiful--quite
as animated.

What the French call a _saut_ (leap), we term a _fall_; the
Sault-Sainte-Marie is translated into the falls of St. Mary. By this
name the rapids are often mentioned, but the village on their shore
still retains its old name, and is called the Sault. I do not know why
the beautiful river and its glorious cataracts should have been placed
under the peculiar patronage of the blessed Virgin; perhaps from the
union of exceeding loveliness with irresistible power; or, more
probably, because the first adventurers reached the spot on some day
hallowed in the calendar.

The French, ever active and enterprising, were the first who penetrated
to this wild region. They had an important trading post here early in
the last century, and also a small fort. They were ceded, with the rest
of the country, to Great Britain, in 1762.[36] I wonder whether, at that
time, the young king or any of his ministers had the least conception of
the value and immensity of the magnificent country thrown into our
possession, or gave a thought to the responsibilities it brought with
it!--to be sure they made good haste, both king and ministers, to get
rid of most of the responsibility. The American war began, and at its
conclusion the south shore of St. Mary's, and the fort, were surrendered
to the Americans.

The rapids of Niagara, as I once told you, reminded me of a monstrous
tiger at play, and threw me into a sort of ecstatic terror; but these
rapids of St. Mary suggest quite another idea: as they come fretting and
fuming down, curling up their light foam, and wreathing their glancing
billows round the opposing rocks, with a sort of passionate self-will,
they remind me of an exquisitely beautiful woman in a fit of rage, or of
Walter Scott's simile--"one of the Graces possessed by a Fury;"--there
is no terror in their anger, only the sense of excitement and
loveliness; when it has spent this sudden, transient fit of impatience,
the beautiful river resumes all its placid dignity, and holds on its
course, deep and wide enough to float a squadron of seventy-fours, and
rapid and pellucid as a mountain trout-stream.


Here, as everywhere else, I am struck by the difference between the two
shores. On the American side there is a settlement of whites, as well as
a large village of Chippewas; there is also a mission (I believe of the
Methodists), for the conversion of the Indians. The fort, which has been
lately strengthened, is merely a strong and high enclosure, surrounded
with pickets of cedar-wood; within the stockade are the barracks, and
the principal trading store. This fortress is called Fort Brady, after
that gallant officer whom I have already mentioned to you. The garrison
may be very effective for aught I know, but I never beheld such an
unmilitary-looking set. When I was there to-day, the sentinels were
lounging up and down in their flannel jackets and shirt sleeves, with
muskets thrown over their shoulders--just for all the world like
ploughboys going to shoot sparrows; however, they are in keeping with
the fortress of cedar-posts, and no doubt both answer their purpose very
well. The village is increasing into a town, and the commercial
advantages of its situation must raise it ere long to a place of

On the Canada side we have not even these demonstrations of power or
prosperity. Nearly opposite to the American fort there is a small
factory belonging to the North-west Fur Company; below this, a few
miserable log-huts, occupied by some French Canadians and voyageurs in
the service of the company, a set of lawless _mauvais sujets_, from all
I can learn. Lower down stands the house of Mr. and Mrs. MacMurray, with
the Chippewa village under their care and tuition; but most of the
wigwams and their inhabitants are now on their way down the lake, to
join the congress at the Manitoolin Islands. A lofty eminence, partly
cleared and partly clothed with forest, rises behind the house, on which
stand the little missionary church and school-house for the use of the
Indian converts. From the summit of this hill you look over the traverse
into Lake Superior, and the two giant capes which guard its entrance.
One of these capes is called Gros-Cap, from its bold and lofty cliffs,
the yet unviolated haunt of the eagle. The opposite cape is more
accessible, and bears an Indian name, which I cannot pretend to spell,
but which signifies "the place of the Iroquois' bones:" it was the scene
of a wild and terrific tradition. At the time that the Iroquois (or Six
Nations) were driven before the French and Hurons up to the western
lakes, they endeavoured to possess themselves of the hunting-grounds of
the Chippewas, and hence a bitter and lasting feud between the two
nations. The Iroquois, after defeating the Chippewas, encamped, a
thousand strong, upon this point, where, thinking themselves secure,
they made a war feast to torture and devour their prisoners. The
Chippewas, from the opposite shore, beheld the sufferings and
humiliation of their friends, and, roused to sudden fury by the sight,
collected their warriors, only three hundred in all, crossed the
channel, and at break of day fell upon the Iroquois, now sleeping after
their horrible excesses, and massacred every one of them, men, women,
and children. Of their own party they lost but one warrior, who was
stabbed with an awl by an old woman who was sitting at the entrance of
her wigwam, stitching moccasins: thus runs the tale. The bodies were
left to bleach on the shore, and they say that bones and skulls are
still found there.


Here, at the foot of the rapids, the celebrated white-fish of the lakes
is caught in its highest perfection. The people down below[37], who
boast of the excellence of the white-fish, really know nothing of the
matter. There is no more comparison between the white-fish of the lower
lakes and the white-fish of St. Mary's than between plaice and turbot,
or between a clam and a Sandwich oyster. I ought to be a judge, who have
eaten them fresh out of the river four times a day, and I declare to you
that I never tasted anything of the fish kind half so exquisite. If the
Roman Apicius had lived in these latter days, he would certainly have
made a voyage up Lake Huron to breakfast on the white-fish of St. Mary's
river, and would _not_ have returned in dudgeon, as he did, from the
coast of Africa. But the epicures of our degenerate times have nothing
of that gastronomical enthusiasm which inspired their ancient models,
else we should have them all coming here to eat white-fish at the Sault,
and scorning cockney white-bait. Henry declares that the flavour of the
white-fish is "beyond any comparison whatever," and I add my testimony
thereto--_probatum est!_

I have eaten tunny in the gulf of Genoa, anchovies fresh out of the bay
of Naples, and trout of the Salz-kammergut, and divers other fishy
dainties rich and rare,--but the exquisite, the refined white-fish
exceeds them all; concerning those cannibal fish (mullets were they, or
lampreys?) which Lucullus fed in his fish-ponds, I cannot speak, never
having tasted them; but even if _they_ could be resuscitated, I would
not degrade the refined, the delicate white-fish by a comparison with
any such barbarian luxury.

But seriously, and badinage apart, it is really the most luxurious
delicacy that swims the waters. It is said that people never tire of
them. Mr. MacMurray tells me that he has eaten them every day of his
life for seven years, and that his relish for them is undiminished. The
enormous quantities caught here, and in the bays and creeks round Lake
Superior, remind me of herrings in the lochs of Scotland; besides
subsisting the inhabitants, whites and Indians, during great part of the
year, vast quantities are cured and barrelled every fall, and sent down
to the eastern states. Not less than eight thousand barrels were shipped
last year.

[Footnote 36: The first British commandant of the fort was that
miserable Lieutenant Jemette, who was scalped at the massacre at

[Footnote 37: That is, in the neighbourhood of Lake Ontario and Lake


These enterprising Yankees have seized upon another profitable
speculation here: there is a fish found in great quantities in the upper
part of Lake Superior, called the skevát[38], so exceedingly rich,
luscious, and oily, when fresh, as to be quite uneatable. A gentleman
here told me that he had tried it, and though not very squeamish at any
time, and then very hungry, he could not get beyond the first two or
three mouthfuls; but it has been lately discovered that this fish makes
a most luxurious pickle. It is very excellent, but so rich even in this
state, that, like the tunny _marinée_, it is necessary either to taste
abstemiously, or die heroically of indigestion. This fish is becoming a
fashionable luxury, and in one of the stores here I saw three hundred
barrels ready for embarkation. The Americans have several schooners on
the lakes employed in these fisheries: we have not one. They have
besides planned a ship canal through the portage here, which will open a
communication for large vessels between Lake Huron and Lake Superior, as
our Welland Canal has united Lake Erie with Lake Ontario. The ground has
already been surveyed for this purpose. When this canal is completed, a
vessel may load in the Thames, and discharge her burthen at the upper
end of Lake Superior. I hope you have a map before you, that you may
take in at a glance this wonderful extent of inland navigation. Ought a
country possessing it, and all the means of life beside, to remain poor,
oppressed, uncultivated, unknown?


But to return to my beautiful river and glorious rapids, which are to be
treated, you see, as a man treats a passionate beauty--he does not
oppose her, for that were madness--but he gets _round her_. Well, on
the American side, further down the river, is the house of Tanner, the
Indian interpreter, of whose story you may have heard--for, as I
remember, it excited some attention in England. He is a European of
unmixed blood, with the language, manners, habits of a Red-skin. He had
been kidnapped somewhere on the American frontiers when a mere boy, and
brought up among the Chippewas. He afterwards returned to civilised
life, and having relearned his own language, drew up a very entertaining
and valuable account of his adopted tribe. He is now in the American
service here, having an Indian wife, and is still attached to his Indian
mode of life.

Just above the fort is the ancient burial-place of the Chippewas. I need
not tell you of the profound veneration with which all the Indian tribes
regard the places of their dead. In all their treaties for the cession
of their lands, they stipulate with the white man for the inviolability
of their sepulchres. They did the same with regard to this place, but I
am sorry to say that it has not been attended to, for in enlarging one
side of the fort, they have considerably encroached on the cemetery. The
outrage excited both the sorrow and indignation of some of my friends
here, but there is no redress. Perhaps it was this circumstance that
gave rise to the allusion of the Indian chief here, when in speaking of
the French he said, "_They_ never molested the places of our dead!"

The view of the rapids from this spot is inexpressibly beautiful, and it
has besides another attraction, which makes it to me a frequent lounge
whenever I cross the river;--but of this by-and-bye. To complete my
sketch of the localities, I will only add, that the whole country around
is in its primitive state, covered with the interminable swamp and
forest, where the bear and the moose-deer roam--and lakes and living
streams where the beaver builds his hut.[39] The cariboo, or rein-deer,
is still found on the northern shores.

The hunting-grounds of the Chippewas are in the immediate neighbourhood,
and extend all round Lake Superior. Beyond these, on the north, are the
Chippewyans; and on the south, the Sioux, Ottagamies, and

I might here multiply facts and details, but I have been obliged to
throw these particulars together in haste, just to give you an idea of
my present situation. Time presses, and my sojourn in this remote and
interesting spot is like to be of short duration.

[Footnote 38: I spell the word as pronounced, never having seen it

[Footnote 39: The beaver is, however, becoming rare in these regions. It
is a curious fact connected with the physiology and psychology of
instinct, that the beaver is found to change its instincts and modes of
life, as it has been more and more persecuted, and, instead of being a
gregarious, it is now a solitary animal. The beavers, which are found
living in solitary holes instead of communities and villages, the
Indians call by a name which signifies _Old Bachelor_.]

       *     *     *     *     *


One of the gratifications I had anticipated in coming hither--my
strongest inducement perhaps--was an introduction to the mother of my
two friends, of whom her children so delighted to speak, and of whom I
had heard much from other sources. A woman of pure Indian blood, of a
race celebrated in these regions as warriors and chiefs from generation
to generation, who had never resided within the pale of what we call
civilised life, whose habits and manners were those of a genuine Indian
squaw, and whose talents and domestic virtues commanded the highest
respect, was, as you may suppose, an object of the deepest interest to
me. I observed that not only her own children, but her two sons-in-law,
Mr. MacMurray and Mr. Schoolcraft, both educated in good society, the
one a clergyman and the other a man of science and literature, looked up
to this remarkable woman with sentiments of affection and veneration.

As soon, then, as I was a little refreshed after my two nights on the
lake, and my battles with the mosquitoes, we paddled over the river to
dine with Mrs. Johnston: she resides in a large log-house close upon the
shore; there is a little portico in front with seats, and the interior
is most comfortable. The old lady herself is rather large in person,
with the strongest marked Indian features, a countenance open,
benevolent, and intelligent, and a manner perfectly easy--simple, yet
with something of motherly dignity, becoming the head of her large
family. She received me most affectionately, and we entered into
conversation--Mrs. Schoolcraft, who looked all animation and happiness,
acting as interpreter. Mrs. Johnston speaks no English, but can
understand it a little, and the Canadian French still better; but in her
own language she is eloquent, and her voice, like that of her people,
low and musical; many kind words were exchanged, and when I said
anything that pleased her, she laughed softly like a child. I was not
well and much fevered, and I remember she took me in her arms, laid me
down on a couch, and began to rub my feet, soothing and caressing me.
She called me Nindannis, daughter, and I called her Neengai, mother
(though how different from my own fair mother, I thought, as I looked up
gratefully in her dark Indian face!). She set before us the best dressed
and best served dinner I had seen since I left Toronto, and presided at
her table, and did the honours of her house with unembarrassed,
unaffected propriety. My attempts to speak Indian caused, of course,
considerable amusement; if I do not make progress, it will not be for
want of teaching and teachers.


After dinner we took a walk to visit Mrs. Johnston's brother, Wayish,ky,
whose wigwam is at a little distance, on the verge of the burial-ground.
The lodge is of the genuine Chippewa form, like an egg cut in half
lengthways. It is formed of poles stuck in the ground, and bent over at
top, strengthened with a few wattles and boards; the whole is covered
over with mats, birch-bark, and skins; a large blanket formed the door
or curtain, which was not ungracefully looped aside. Wayish,ky, being a
great man, has also a smaller lodge hard by, which serves as a
storehouse and kitchen.


Rude as was the exterior of Wayish,ky's hut, the interior presented
every appearance of comfort, and even _elegance_, according to the
Indian notions of both. It formed a good-sized room: a raised couch ran
all round like a Turkish divan, serving both for seats and beds, and
covered with very soft and beautiful matting of various colours and
patterns. The chests and baskets of birch-bark, containing the family
wardrobe and property; the rifles, the hunting and fishing tackle, were
stowed away all round very tidily; I observed a coffee-mill nailed up to
one of the posts or stakes; the floor was trodden down hard and
perfectly clean, and there was a place for a fire in the middle: there
was no window, but quite sufficient light and air were admitted through
the door, and through an aperture in the roof. There was no disagreeable
smell, and everything looked neat and clean. We found Wayish,ky and his
wife and three of their children seated in the lodge, and as it was
Sunday, and they are all Christians, no work was going forward. They
received me with genuine and simple politeness, each taking my hand with
a gentle inclination of the head, and some words of welcome murmured in
their own soft language. We then sat down.

The conversation became very lively; and, if I might judge from looks
and tones, very affectionate. I _sported_ my last new words and phrases
with great effect, and when I had exhausted my vocabulary--which was
very soon--I amused myself with looking and listening.

Mrs. Wayish,ky (I forget her proper name) must have been a very
beautiful woman. Though now no longer young, and the mother of twelve
children, she is one of the handsomest Indian women I have yet seen. The
number of her children is remarkable, for in general there are few large
families among the Indians. Her daughter, Zah,gah,see,ga,quay (_the
sunbeams breaking through a cloud_), is a very beautiful girl, with eyes
that are a warrant for her poetical name--she is about sixteen.
Wayish,ky himself is a grave, dignified man about fifty. He told me that
his eldest son had gone down to the Manitoolin Island to represent his
family, and receive his quota of presents. His youngest son he had sent
to a college in the United States, to be educated in the learning of the
white men. Mrs. Schoolcraft whispered me that this poor boy is now dying
of consumption, owing to the confinement and change of living, and that
the parents knew it. Wayish,ky seemed aware that we were alluding to
his son, for his eye at that moment rested on me, and such an expression
of keen pain came suddenly over his fine countenance, it was as if a
knife had struck him, and I really felt it in my heart, and see it still
before me--that look of misery.

After about an hour we left this good and interesting family. I lingered
for a while on the burial-ground, looking over the rapids, and watching
with a mixture of admiration and terror several little canoes which were
fishing in the midst of the boiling surge, dancing and popping about
like corks. The canoe used for fishing is very small and light; one man
(or woman more commonly) sits in the stern, and steers with a paddle;
the fisher places himself upright on the prow, balancing a long pole
with both hands, at the end of which is a scoop-net. This he every
minute dips into the water, bringing up at each dip a fish, and
sometimes two. I used to admire the fishermen on the Arno, and those on
the Lagune, and above all the Neapolitan fishermen, hauling in their
nets, or diving like ducks, but I never saw anything like these Indians.
The manner in which they keep their position upon a footing of a few
inches, is to me as incomprehensible as the beauty of their forms and
attitudes, swayed by every movement and turn of their dancing, fragile
barks, is admirable.

George Johnston, on whose arm I was leaning (and I had much ado to
_reach_ it), gave me such a vivid idea of the delight of coming down the
cataract in a canoe, that I am half resolved to attempt it. Terrific as
it appears, yet in a good canoe, and with experienced guides, there is
no absolute danger, and it must be a glorious sensation.


Mr. Johnston had spent the last fall and winter in the regions beyond
Lake Superior, towards the forks of the Mississippi, where he had been
employed as American agent to arrange the boundary line between the
country of the Chippewas and that of their neighbours and implacable
enemies, the Sioux. His mediation appeared successful for the time, and
he smoked the pipe of peace with both tribes; but during the spring this
ferocious war has again broken out, and he seems to think that nothing
but the annihilation of either one nation or the other will entirely put
an end to their conflicts; "for there is no point at which the Indian
law of retaliation stops, short of the extermination of one of the

I asked him how it is that in their wars the Indians make no distinction
between the warriors opposed to them and helpless women and
children?--how it could be with a brave and manly people, that the
scalps taken from the weak, the helpless, the unresisting, were as
honourable as those torn from the warrior's skull? And I described to
him the horror which this custom inspired--this, which of all their
customs, most justifies the name of _savage_!

He said it was inseparable from their principles of war and their mode
of warfare; the first consists in inflicting the greatest possible
insult and injury on their foe with the least possible risk to
themselves. This truly savage law of honour we might call cowardly, but
that, being associated with the bravest contempt of danger and pain, it
seems nearer to the natural law. With regard to the mode of warfare,
they have rarely pitched battles, but skirmishes, surprises, ambuscades,
and sudden forays into each other's hunting-grounds and villages. The
usual practice is to creep stealthily on the enemy's village or
hunting-encampment, and wait till just after the dawn; then, at the
moment the sleepers in the lodges are rising, the ambushed warriors
stoop and level their pieces about two feet from the ground, which thus
slaughter indiscriminately. If they find one of the enemy's lodges
undefended they murder its inmates, that when the owner returns he may
find his hearth desolate; for this is exquisite vengeance! But outrage
against the chastity of women is absolutely unknown under any degree
whatever of furious excitement.[40]

This respect for female honour will remind you of the ancient Germans,
as described by Julius Cæsar: he contrasts in some surprise their
forbearance with the very opposite conduct of the Romans; and even down
to this present day, if I recollect rightly, the history of our European
wars and sieges will bear out this early and characteristic distinction
between the Latin and the Teutonic nations. Am I right, or am I not?

[Footnote 40: "The whole history of Indian warfare," says Mr.
Schoolcraft, "might be challenged in vain for a solitary instance of
this kind. The Indians believe that to take a dishonourable advantage of
their female prisoners would destroy their luck in hunting; it would be
considered as effeminate and degrading in a warrior, and render him
unfit for, and unworthy of, all manly achievement."]


To return to the Indians. After telling me some other particulars, which
gave me a clearer view of their notions and feelings on these points
than I ever had before, my informant mildly added,--"It is a constant
and favourite subject of reproach against the Indians--this barbarism of
their desultory warfare; but I should think more women and children have
perished in _one_ of your civilised sieges, and that in late times, than
during the whole war between the Chippewas and Sioux, and _that_ has
lasted a century."

I was silent, for there is a sensible proverb about taking care of our
own glass windows: and I wonder if any of the recorded atrocities of
Indian warfare or Indian vengeance, or all of them together, ever
exceeded Massena's retreat from Portugal,--and the French call
themselves civilised. A war party of Indians, perhaps two or three
hundred (and that is a very large number), dance their war dance, go out
and burn a village, and bring back twenty or thirty scalps. _They_ are
savages and heathens. We Europeans fight a battle, leave fifty thousand
dead or dying by inches on the field, and a hundred thousand to mourn
them, desolate; but _we_ are civilised and Christians. Then only look
into the motives and causes of our bloodiest European wars as revealed
in the private history of courts:--the miserable, puerile, degrading
intrigues which set man against man--so horridly disproportioned to the
horrid result! and then see the Indian take up his war-hatchet in
vengeance for some personal injury, or from motives that rouse all the
natural feelings of the natural man within him! Really I do not see that
an Indian warrior, flourishing his tomahawk, and smeared with his
enemy's blood, is so very much a greater savage than the pipe-clayed,
padded, embroidered personage, who, without cause or motive, has sold
himself to slay or be slain: one scalps his enemy, the other rips him
open with a sabre; one smashes his brains with a tomahawk, and the other
blows him to atoms with a cannon-ball: and to me, femininely speaking,
there is not a needle's point difference between the one and the other.
If war be unchristian and barbarous, then war as a _science_ is more
absurd, unnatural, unchristian than war as a _passion_.

This, perhaps, is putting it all too strongly, and a little

God forbid that I should think to disparage the blessings of
civilisation! I am a woman, and to the progress of civilisation alone
can we women look for release from many pains and penalties and
liabilities, which now lie heavily upon us. Neither am I greatly in love
with savage life, with all its picturesque accompaniments and lofty
virtues. I see no reason why these virtues should be necessarily
connected with dirt, ignorance, and barbarism. I am thankful to live in
a land of literature and steam-engines. Chatsworth is better than a
wigwam, and a seventy-four is a finer thing than a bark canoe. I do not
_positively_ assert that Taglioni dances more gracefully than the
Little-Pure tobacco-smoker, nor that soap and water are preferable as
cosmetics to tallow and charcoal; for these are matters of taste, and
mine may be disputed. But I do say, that if our advantages of intellect
and refinement are not to lead on to farther moral superiority, I prefer
the Indians on the score of consistency; they are what they profess to
be, and we are _not_ what we profess to be. They profess to be warriors
and hunters, and are so; we profess to be Christians and civilised--are
we so?

Then as to the mere point of cruelty;--there is something to be said on
this point too. Ferocity, when the hot blood is up, and all the demon in
man is roused by every conceivable excitement, I can understand better
than the Indian can comprehend the tender mercies of our law. Owyawatta,
better known by his English name, Red-Jacket, was once seen hurrying
from the town of Buffalo, with rapid strides, and every mark of disgust
and consternation in his face. Three malefactors were to be hung that
morning, and the Indian warrior had not nerve to face the horrid
spectacle, although--

  "In sober truth the veriest devil
  That ere clenched fingers in a captive's hair."

       *     *     *     *     *


The more I looked upon those glancing, dancing rapids, the more resolute
I grew to venture myself in the midst of them. George Johnston went to
seek a fit canoe and a dextrous steersman, and meantime I strolled away
to pay a visit to Wayish,ky's family, and made a sketch of their lodge,
while pretty Zah,gah,see,gah,qua, held the umbrella to shade me.

The canoe being ready, I went up to the top of the portage, and we
launched into the river. It was a small fishing canoe about ten feet
long, quite new, and light and elegant and buoyant as a bird on the
waters. I reclined on a mat at the bottom, Indian fashion (there are no
seats in a genuine Indian canoe); in a minute we were within the verge
of the rapids, and down we went, with a whirl and a splash!--the white
surge leaping around me--over me. The Indian with astonishing dexterity
kept the head of the canoe to the breakers, and somehow or other we
danced through them. I could see, as I looked over the edge of the
canoe, that the passage between the rocks was sometimes not more than
two feet in width, and we had to turn sharp angles--a touch of which
would have sent us to destruction--all this I could see through the
transparent eddying waters, but I can truly say, I had not even a
momentary sensation of fear, but rather of giddy, breathless, delicious
excitement. I could even admire the beautiful attitude of a fisher, past
whom we swept as we came to the bottom. The whole affair, from the
moment I entered the canoe till I reached the landing place, occupied
seven minutes, and the distance is about three quarters of a mile.[41]

[Footnote 41: "The total descent of the Fall of St. Mary's has been
ascertained to be twenty-two and a half perpendicular feet. It has been
found impracticable to ascend the rapid; but canoes have ventured down,
though the experiment is extremely nervous and hazardous, and avoided by
a portage, two miles long, which connects the navigable parts of the
strait."--_Bouchette's Canada._]


My Indians were enchanted, and when I reached _home_, my good friends
were not less delighted at my exploit: they told me I was the first
European female who had ever performed it, and assuredly I shall not be
the last. I recommend it as an exercise before breakfast. As for my
Neengai, she laughed, clapped her hands, and embraced me several times.
I was declared duly initiated, and adopted into the family by the name
of Wah,sàh,ge,wah,nó,quà. They had already called me among themselves,
in reference to my complexion and my travelling propensities,
O,daw,yaun,gee, _the fair changing moon_, or rather, _the fair moon
which changes her place_: but now, in compliment to my successful
achievement, Mrs. Johnston bestowed this new appellation, which I much
prefer. It signifies _the bright foam_, or more properly, with the
feminine adjunct, _qua_, _the woman of the bright foam_; and by this
name I am henceforth to be known among the Chippewas.

       *     *     *     *     *

Now that I have been a Chippewa born, any time these four hours[42], I
must introduce you to some of my new relations "of the totem of the
rein-deer;" and first to my illustrious grandpapa, Waub-Ojeeg[43] (the

The Chippewas, as you perhaps know, have long been reckoned among the
most warlike and numerous, but also among the wildest and more
untameable nations of the north-west. In progressing with the other
Algonquin tribes from south to north, they seem to have crossed the St.
Lawrence and dispersed themselves along the shores of Lake Ontario, and
Lake Huron and its islands. Driven westward before the Iroquois, as
_they_ retired before the French and Hurons, the Chippewas appear to
have crossed the St. Mary's River, and then spread along the south
shores of Lake Superior. Their council fire, and the chief seat of the
nation, was upon a promontory at the farthest end of Lake Superior,
called by the French La Pointe, and by the Indians Che,goi,me,gon: by
one name or the other you will find it on most maps, as it has long been
a place of importance in the fur trade. Here was the grand national
council fire (the extinction of which foretold, if it did not occasion,
some dread national calamity), and the residence of the presiding chief.
The Indians know neither sovereignty nor nobility, but when one family
has produced several distinguished war-chiefs, the dignity becomes by
courtesy or custom hereditary; and from whatever reason, the family of
Wayish,ki or the Mudgi,kiwis, exercised, even from a remote period, a
sort of influence over the rest of the tribe. One traveller says that
the present descendants of these chiefs evince such a pride of ancestry
as could only be looked for in feudal or despotic monarchies. The
present representative, Piz,hi,kee (the Buffalo), my illustrious cousin,
still resides at La Pointe. When presented with a silver medal of
authority from the American government, he said haughtily, "What need of
this? it is known to all whence I am descended!" Family pride, you see,
lies somewhere very deep in human nature.

When the Chippewas first penetrated to these regions, they came in
contact with the Ottagamies or Foxes, who, being descended from the same
stock, received them as brothers, and at first ceded to them a part of
their boundless hunting-grounds; and as these Ottagamies were friends
and allies of the Sioux, these three nations continued for some time
friends, and inter-marriages and family alliances took place. But the
increasing power of the Chippewas soon excited the jealousy and
apprehension of the other two tribes. The Ottagamies committed inroads
on their hunting-grounds (this is the primary cause of almost all the
Indian wars), the Chippewas sent an embassy to complain of the injury,
and desired the Ottagamies to restrain their young men within the
stipulated bounds. The latter returned an insulting answer. The
war-hatchet was raised, and the Sioux and the Ottagamies united against
the Chippewas: this was about 1726 or 1730. From this time there has
been no peace between the Chippewas and Sioux.

[Footnote 42: _Ant._ I know you now, Sir, a gentleman born.

_Clo._ Aye, that I have been any time these four hours.--_Winter's

[Footnote 43: The name is thus pronounced, but I have seen it spelt


It happened just before the declaration of war, that a young Chippewa
girl was married to a Sioux chief of great distinction, and bore him two
sons. When hostilities commenced the Sioux chief retired to his own
tribe, and his wife remained with her relations, according to Indian
custom. The two children, belonging to both tribes, were hardly safe
with either; but as the father was best able to protect them, it was at
last decided that they should accompany him. The Sioux chief and his
boys departed to join his warriors, accompanied by his Chippewa wife and
her relations, till they were in safety: then the young wife returned
home weeping and inconsolable for the loss of her husband and children.
Some years afterwards she consented to become the wife of the great
chief at Chegoimegon. Her son by this marriage was Mamongazida, or
Mongazida (the Loon's-foot), a chief of great celebrity, who led a
strong party of his nation in the Canadian wars between the French and
English, fighting on the side of the French. He was present at the
battle of Quebec, when Wolfe was killed, and according to the Indian
tradition, the Marquis Montcalm died in Mongazida's arms. After the war
was over, he "shook hands" with the English. He was at the grand
assemblage of chiefs, convened by Sir William Johnstone, at Niagara, and
from him received a rich gorget, and broad belt of wampum, as pledges of
peace and alliance with the English. These relics were preserved in the
family with great veneration, and inherited by Waub-Ojeeg, and
afterwards by his younger brother, Camudwa; but it happened that when
Camudwa was out on a winter-hunt near the river Broulé, he and all his
family were overtaken by famine and starved to death, and these insignia
were then lost and never recovered. This last incident is a specimen of
the common vicissitudes of Indian life; and when listening to their
domestic histories, I observe that the events of paramount interest are
the want or the abundance of food--hunger or plenty. "We killed a moose,
or a bear, and had meat for so many days:" or, "we followed on the track
of a bear, and he escaped us; we had _no_ meat for so many days." These
are the ever-recurring topics which in their conversation stand instead
of the last brilliant essay in the Edinburgh or Quarterly, or the last
news from Russia or Spain. Starvation from famine is not uncommon; and I
am afraid, from all I hear, that cannibalism under such circumstances is
not unknown. Remembering some recent instances nearer home, when extreme
hunger produced the same horrid result, I could not be much astonished.

To return. Waub-Ojeeg was the second son of this famous Mongazida. Once
when the latter went out on his "fall hunts," on the grounds near the
Sioux territory, taking all his relatives with him (upwards of twenty in
number), they were attacked by the Sioux at early dawn, in the usual
manner. The first volley had gone through the lodges; before the second
could be fired, Mongazida rushed out, and proclaiming his own name with
a loud voice, demanded if Wabash, his mother's son, were among the
assailants. There was a pause, and then a tall figure in his war-dress,
and a profusion of feathers in his head, stepped forward and gave his
hand to his half-brother. They all repaired to the lodge in peace
together; but at the moment the Sioux chief stooped to enter,
Waub-Ojeeg, then a boy of eight years old, who had planted himself at
the entrance to defend it, struck him a blow on the forehead with his
little war-club. Wabash, enchanted, took him up in his arms and
prophesied that he would become a great war chief, and an implacable
enemy of the Sioux. Subsequently the prophecy was accomplished, and
Waub-Ojeeg commanded his nation in all the war-parties against the Sioux
and Ottagamies. He was generally victorious, and so entirely defeated
the Ottagamies, that they never afterwards ventured to oppose him, but
retired down the Wisconsin river, where they are now settled.

But Waub-Ojeeg was something more and better than merely a successful
warrior: he was remarkable for his eloquence, and composed a number of
war-songs, which were sung through the Chippewa villages, and some of
which his daughter can repeat. He was no less skilful in hunting than in
war. His hunting-grounds extended to the river Broulé, at Fon du Lac;
and he killed any one who dared to intrude on his district. The skins he
took annually were worth three hundred and fifty dollars, a sum amply
sufficient to make him rich in clothing, arms, powder, vermilion, and
trinkets. Like Tecumseh, he would not marry early lest it should turn
his attention from war, but at the age of thirty he married a widow, by
whom he had two sons. Becoming tired of this elderly helpmate, he took a
young wife, a beautiful girl of fourteen, by whom he had six children;
of these my Neengai is the eldest. She described her father as
affectionate and domestic. "There was always plenty of bear's meat and
deer's flesh in the lodge." He had a splendid lodge, sixty feet in
length, which he was fond of ornamenting. In the centre there was a
strong post, which rose several feet above the roof, and on the top
there was the carved figure of an owl, which veered with the wind. This
owl seems to have answered the same purpose as the flag on the tower of
Windsor Castle: it was the insignia of his power and of his presence.
When absent on his long winter hunts the lodge was shut up, and the owl
taken down.

The skill of Waub-Ojeeg as a hunter and trapper, brought him into
friendly communication with a fur-trader named Johnston, who had
succeeded the enterprising Henry in exploring Lake Superior. This young
man, of good Irish family, came out to Canada with such strong letters
of recommendation to Lord Dorchester, that he was invited to reside in
the government house till a vacancy occurred in his favour in one of the
official departments; meantime, being of an active and adventurous turn,
he joined a party of traders going up the lakes, merely as an excursion,
but became so enamoured of that wild life, as to adopt it in earnest. On
one of his expeditions, when encamped at Che,goi,me,gon, and trafficking
with Waub-Ojeeg, he saw the eldest daughter of the chief, and "no sooner
looked than he sighed, no sooner sighed than he asked himself the
reason," and ended by asking his friend to give him his beautiful
daughter. "White man!" said the chief with dignity, "your customs are
not our customs! you white men desire our women, you marry them, and
when they cease to please your eye, you say they are _not_ your wives,
and you forsake them. Return, young friend, with your load of skins, to
Montreal; and if there, the women of the pale faces do not put my child
out of your mind, return hither in the spring and we will talk farther;
she is young, and can wait." The young Irishman, ardently in love, and
impatient and impetuous, after the manner of his countrymen, tried
arguments, entreaties, presents, in vain--he was obliged to submit. He
went down to Montreal, and the following spring returned and claimed his
bride. The chief, after making him swear that he would take her as his
_wife_ according to the law of the white man, _till death_, gave him his
daughter, with a long speech of advice to both.


Mrs. Johnston relates, that previous to her marriage, she _fasted_,
according to the universal Indian custom, _for a guardian spirit_: to
perform this ceremony, she went away to the summit of an eminence, and
built herself a little lodge of cedar boughs, painted herself black, and
began her fast in solitude. She dreamed continually of a white man, who
approached her with a cup in his hand, saying, "Poor thing! why are you
punishing yourself? why do you fast? here is food for you!" He was
always accompanied by a dog, which looked up in her face as though he
knew her. Also she dreamed of being on a high hill, which was surrounded
by water, and from which she beheld many canoes full of Indians, coming
to her and paying her homage; after this, she felt as if she were
carried up into the heavens, and as she looked down upon the earth, she
perceived it was on fire, and said to herself, "All my relations will be
burned!" but a voice answered and said, "No, they will not be destroyed,
they will be saved;" and she _knew it was a spirit_, because the voice
was not human. She fasted for ten days, during which time her
grandmother brought her at intervals some water. When satisfied that she
had obtained a guardian spirit in the white stranger who haunted her
dreams, she returned to her father's lodge, carrying green cedar boughs,
which she threw on the ground, stepping on them as she went. When she
entered the lodge, she threw some more down upon her usual place (next
her mother), and took her seat. During the ten succeeding days she was
not permitted to eat any meat, nor anything but a little corn boiled
with a bitter herb. For ten days more she eat meat smoked in a
particular manner, and she then partook of the usual food of her family.

Notwithstanding that her future husband and future greatness were so
clearly prefigured in this dream, the pretty O,shah,gush,ko,da,na,qua
having always regarded a white man with awe, and as a being of quite
another species (perhaps the more so in consequence of her dream), seems
to have felt nothing throughout the whole negotiation for her hand but
reluctance, terror, and aversion. On being carried with the usual
ceremonies to her husband's lodge, she fled into a dark corner, rolled
herself up in her blanket, and would not be comforted nor even looked
upon. It is to the honour of Johnston, that he took no cruel advantage
of their mutual position, and that she remained in his lodge ten days,
during which he treated her with the utmost tenderness and respect, and
sought by every gentle means to overcome her fear and gain her
affection;--and it was touching to see how tenderly and gratefully this
was remembered by his wife after a lapse of thirty-six years. On the
tenth day, however, she ran away from him in a paroxysm of terror, and
after fasting in the woods for four days, reached her grandfather's
wigwam. Meantime, her father, Waub-Ojeeg, who was far off in his hunting
camp, _dreamed_ that his daughter had not conducted herself according to
his advice, with proper wife-like docility, and he returned in haste two
days' journey to see after her; and finding all things _according to his
dream_, he gave her a good beating with a stick, and threatened to cut
off both her ears. He then took her back to her husband, with a
propitiatory present of furs and Indian corn, and many apologies and
exculpations of his own honour. Johnston succeeded at length in taming
this shy wild fawn, and took her to his house at the Sault-Sainte-Marie.
When she had been there some time, she was seized with a longing once
more to behold her mother's face, and revisit her people. Her husband
had lately purchased a small schooner to trade upon the lake; this he
fitted out, and sent her, with a retinue of his clerks and retainers,
and in such state as became the wife of the "great Englishman," to her
home at La Pointe, loaded with magnificent presents for all her family.
He did not go with her himself, apparently from motives of delicacy, and
that he might be no constraint upon her feelings or movements. A few
months' residence amid comparative splendour and luxury, with a man who
treated her with respect and tenderness, enabled the fair
O,shah,gush,ko,da,na,qua, to contrast her former with her present home.
She soon returned to her husband, and we do not hear of any more
languishing after her father's wigwam. She lived most happily with
Johnston for thirty-six years, till his death, which occurred in 1828,
and is the mother of eight children, four boys and four girls.

She showed me her husband's picture, which he brought to her from
Montreal; the features are very gentleman-like. He has been described to
me by some of my Canadian friends, who knew him well, as a very clever,
lively, and eccentric man, and a little of the _bon vivant_. Owing to
his independent fortune, his talents, his long acquaintance with the
country, and his connexion by marriage with the native blood, he had
much influence in the country.

During the last American war, he of course adhered to the English, on an
understanding that he should be protected; in return for which the
Americans _of course_ burnt his house, and destroyed his property. He
never could obtain either redress or compensation from our government.
The very spot on which his house stood was at the peace made over to the
United States;--himself and all his family became, per force, Americans.
His sons are in the service of the States. In a late treaty, when the
Chippewas ceded an immense tract in this neighbourhood to the American
government, a reserve was made in favour of O,shah,gush,ko,da,na,qua, of
a considerable section of land, which will render her posterity rich
territorial proprietors--although at present it is all unreclaimed
forest. A large tract of Sugar Island is her property; and this year
she manufactured herself three thousand five hundred weight of sugar of
excellent quality. In the fall, she goes up with her people in canoes to
the entrance of Lake Superior, to fish in the bays and creeks for a
fortnight, and comes back with a load of fish cured for the winter's
consumption. In her youth she hunted, and was accounted the surest eye
and fleetest foot among the women of her tribe. Her talents, energy,
activity, and strength of mind, and her skill in all the domestic
avocations of the Indian women, have maintained comfort and plenty
within her dwelling in spite of the losses sustained by her husband,
while her descent from the blood of their ancient chiefs renders her an
object of great veneration among the Indians around, who, in all their
miseries, maladies, and difficulties, apply to her for aid or for

She has inherited the poetical talent of her father Waub-Ojeeg; and here
is a little fable or allegory which was written down from her
recitation, and translated by her daughter.

       *     *     *     *     *


A man from the north, gray-haired, leaning on his staff, went roving
over all countries. Looking around him one day, after having travelled
without any intermission for four moons, he sought out a spot on which
to recline and rest himself. He had not been long seated before he saw
before him a young man, very beautiful in his appearance, with red
cheeks, sparkling eyes, and his hair covered with flowers; and from
between his lips he blew a breath that was as sweet as the wild rose.

Said the old man to him, as he leaned upon his staff, his white beard
reaching down upon his breast, "Let us repose here awhile, and converse
a little. But first we will build up a fire, and we will bring together
much wood, for it will be needed to keep us warm."

The fire was made, and they took their seats by it, and began to
converse, each telling the other where he came from, and what had
befallen him by the way. Presently the young man felt cold. He looked
round him to see what had produced this change, and pressed his hands
against his cheeks to keep them warm.

The old man spoke and said, "When I wish to cross a river, I breathe
upon it and make it hard, and walk over upon its surface. I have only to
speak, and bid the waters be still, and touch them with my finger, and
they become hard as stone. The tread of my foot makes soft things
hard--and my power is boundless."

The young man, feeling ever moment still colder, and growing tired of
the old man's boasting, and morning being nigh, as he perceived by the
reddening east, thus began--

"Now, my father, I wish to speak."

"Speak," said the old man; "my ear, though it be old, is open--it can

"Then," said the young man, "I also go over all the earth. I have seen
it covered with snow, and the waters I have seen hard as stone; but I
have only passed over them, and the snow has melted; the mountain
streams have begun to flow, the rivers to move, the ice to melt: the
earth has become green under my tread, the flowers blossomed, the birds
were joyful, and all the power of which you boast vanished away!"

The old man drew a deep sigh, and shaking his head, he said, "I know
thee, thou art Summer!"

"True," said the young man, "and here behold my head--see it crowned
with flowers! and my cheeks how they bloom--come near and touch me. Thou
art Winter! I know thy power is great; but, father, thou darest not come
to my country,--thy beard would fall off, and all thy strength would
fail, and thou wouldst die!"

The old man felt this truth; for before the morning was come, he was
seen vanishing away: but each, before they parted, expressed a hope that
they might meet again before many moons.

       *     *     *     *     *


The language of the Chippewas, however figurative and significant, is
not copious. In their speeches and songs they are emphatic and
impressive by the continual repetition of the same phrase or idea; and
it seems to affect them like the perpetual recurrence of a few simple
notes in music, by which I have been myself wound up to painful
excitement, or melted to tears.

A cousin of mine (I have now a large Chippewa cousinship) went on a
hunting excursion, leaving his wife and child in his lodge. During his
absence, a party of Sioux carried them off, and on his return he found
his fire extinguished, and his lodge empty. He immediately blackened his
face (Indian mourning), and repaired to the lodge of his wife's brother,
to whom he sang, in a kind of mournful recitative, the following song;
the purport of which seems to be partly a request for aid against his
enemies, and partly an excuse for the seeming fault of leaving his
family unprotected in his wigwam.

    My brother-in-law, do not wrongfully accuse me for this seeming
    neglect in exposing my family, for I have come to request aid
    from my brother-in-law!

    The cry of my little son was heard as they carried him across
    the prairie, and therefore I have come to supplicate aid from my

    And the voice also of my wife was heard as they carried her
    across the prairie; do not then accuse your brother-in-law, for
    he has come to seek aid from his brother-in-law!

This song is, in measure, ten and eight syllables alternately; and the
perpetual recurrence of the word brother-in-law seems intended to
impress the idea of their relationship on the mind of the hearer.

The next is the address of a war party to their women, on leaving the

  Do not weep, do not weep for me,
  Loved women, should I die;
  For yourselves alone should you weep!
  Poor are ye all and to be pitied:
  Ye women, ye are to be pitied!

  I seek, I seek our fallen relations,
  I go to revenge, revenge the slain,
  Our relations fallen and slain,
  And our foes, our foes shall lie
  Like them, like them shall they lie,
  I go to lay them low, to lay them low!

And then _da capo_, over and over again.
The next is a love song, in the same style of iteration.

  'Tis now two days, two long days,
  Since last I tasted food;
  'Tis for you, for you, my love,
  That I grieve, that I grieve,
  'Tis for you, for you that I grieve!

  The waters flow deep and wide,
  On which, love, you have sailed;
  Dividing you far from me.
  'Tis for you, for you, my love,
  'Tis for you, for you that I grieve!

If you look at some half thousand of our most fashionable and admired
Italian songs--the Notturni of Blangini, for instance--you will find
them very like this Chippewa canzonetta, in the no meaning and perpetual
repetition of certain words and phrases; at the same time, I doubt if it
be _always_ necessary for a song to have a meaning--it is enough if it
have a sentiment.

Here are some verses of a war song, in the same style as to composition,
but breathing very different sentiments.

  I sing, I sing, under the centre of the sky,
      Under the centre of the sky
  Under the centre of the sky I sing, I sing,
      Under the centre of the sky!

  Every day I look at you, you morning star,
      You morning star;
  Every day I look at you, you morning star,
      You morning star.

  The birds of the brave take a flight round the sky,
      A flight round the sky;
  The birds of the brave take a flight, take a flight,
      A flight round the sky.

  They cross the enemies' line, the birds!
      They cross the enemies' line;
  The birds, the birds, the ravenous birds,
      They cross the enemies' line.

  The spirits on high repeat my name,
      Repeat my name;
  The spirits on high, the spirits on high,
      Repeat my name.

  Full happy am I to be slain and to lie,
        On the enemy's side of the line to lie;
  Full happy am I, full happy am I,
        On the enemies' side of the line to lie.

I give you these as curiosities, and as being at least genuine; they
have this merit, if they have no other.

Of the next song, I subjoin the music. It seems to have been composed on
a young American (_a Long-knife_), who made love to a Chippewa girl
(_Ojibway quaince_).

[Illustration: OJIBWAY QUAINCE.]


  Aun dush ween do we nain,
  Git-chee mo-ko-maum aince
  Kah zah wah da mood
    We yá yá hah há we yá yá hah há.

  We ah, bem, ah dè,
  We mah jah need dè,
  We ne moo, sha yun
    We yà, yà hah hà! we yà yà hah hà!

  O mow we mah ne
  We mah jah need dè,
  O jib way quaince un nè,
    We yà, yà hah hà! we yà yà hah hà!

  Kah ween, goo shah, ween nè,
  Keesh wan zhe e we ye
  O gah, mah we mah zeen.
    We yà, yà hah yà! we yà yà hah hà!

  Mee goo shah ween e goo
  Ke bish quah bem ah de
  Che wah nain ne mah de.
    We yà, yà hah hà! we yà yà hah hà!

The literal meaning of the song, without the perpetual repetitions and
transpositions, is just this:

    Hah! what is the matter with the young Long-knife? he crosses
    the river with tears in his eyes. He sees the young Chippewa
    girl preparing to leave the place; he sobs for his sweetheart
    because she is going away, but he will not sigh for her long: as
    soon as she is out of sight he will forget her!

[Footnote 44: From Mr. Schoolcraft, translated literally by Mrs.

       *     *     *     *     *


I have been too long on the other side of the river; I must return to
our Canadian shore, where indeed, I now reside, under the hospitable
roof of our missionary. Mrs. MacMurray's overflowing good-nature,
cleverness, and liveliness, are as delightful in their way as the more
pensive intelligence of her sister.

I have had some interesting talk with Mr. MacMurray on the subject of
his mission and the character of the people consigned to his care and
spiritual guidance. He arrived here in 1832, and married Charlotte
Johnston (O,ge,bu,no,qua) the following year. During the five years
which have elapsed since the establishment of the mission, there have
been one hundred and forty-five baptisms, seven burials, and thirteen
marriages; and the present number of communicants is sixty-six.

He is satisfied with his success, and seems to have gained the good-will
and attachment of the Indians around; he owes much, he says, to his
sweet wife, whose perfect knowledge of the language and habits of her
people have aided him in his task. She is a warm enthusiast in the cause
of conversion, and the labour and fatigue of interpreting the prayers
and sermons, and teaching the Indians to sing, at one time seriously
affected her health. She has a good voice and correct ear, and has
succeeded in teaching several of the women and children to sing some of
our church hymns very pleasingly. She says all the Indians are
passionately fond of music, and that it is a very effective means of
interesting and fixing their attention. Mr. MacMurray says, they take
the most eager delight in the parables, and his explanations of
them--frequently melting into tears. When he collected them together and
addressed them, on his first arrival, several of those present were
intoxicated, he therefore took the opportunity of declaiming against
their besetting vice in strong terms. After waiting till he had
finished, one of their chief men arose and replied gravely: "My father,
before the white men came, we could hunt and fish, and raise corn enough
for our families; we knew nothing of your fire-water. If it is so very
bad, why did the white men bring it here? _we_ did not desire it!"

They were in a degraded state of poverty, recklessness, and misery:
there is now at least _some_ improvement; about thirty children attend
Mrs. MacMurray's school; many of them are decently clothed, and they
have gardens in which they have raised crops of potatoes and Indian
corn. The difficulty is to keep them together for any time sufficient to
make a permanent impression: their wild, restless habits prevail: and
even their necessities interfere against the efforts of their teachers;
they go off to their winter hunting-grounds for weeks together, and when
they return, the task of instruction has to begin again.

One of their chiefs from the north came to Mr. MacMurray, and expressed
a wish to become a Christian; unfortunately, he had three wives, and, as
a necessary preliminary, he was informed that he must confine himself to
one. He had no objection to keep the youngest, to whom he was lately
married, and put away the two others, but this was not admissible. The
one he had first taken to wife was to be the permitted wife, and no
other. He expostulated; Mr. MacMurray insisted; in the end, the old man
went off in high dudgeon. Next morning there was no sign of his wigwam,
and he never applied again to be "made a Christian," the terms
apparently being too hard to digest. "The Roman Catholic priests," said
Mr. MacMurray, "are not so strict on this point as we are; they insist
on the convert retaining only one wife, but they leave him the choice
among those who bear that title."

They have a story among themselves of a converted Indian, who, after
death, applied for admittance to the paradise of the white men, and was
refused; he then went to the paradise of the Red-skins, but _there_ too
he was rejected: and after wandering about for some time disconsolate,
he returned to life (like Gitchee Gausinee), to warn his companions by
his experience in the other world.

Mr. MacMurray reckons among his most zealous converts several great
medicine-men and conjurors. I was surprised at first at the comparative
number of these, and the readiness with which they become Christians;
but it may be accounted for in two ways: they are in general the most
intelligent men in the tribe, and they are more sensible than any others
of the false and delusive nature of their own tricks and superstitious
observances. When a sorcerer is converted, he, in the first place,
surrenders his _meta,wa,aun_, or medicine-sack, containing his manitos.
Mr. MacMurray showed me several; an owl-skin, a wild cat-skin, an
otter-skin; and he gave me two, with the implements of sorcery; one of
birch-bark, containing the skin of a black adder; the other, an
embroidered mink-skin, contains the skin of an enormous rattle-snake
(four feet long), a feather died crimson, a cowrie shell, and some
magical pebbles, wrapped up in bark--the spells and charms of this
Indian Archimago, whose name was, I think, Matabash. He also gave me a
drum, formed of a skin stretched over a hoop, and filled with pebbles,
and a most portentous looking rattle formed of about a hundred bears'
claws, strung together by a thong, and suspended to a carved stick, both
being used in their medicine dances.

The chief of this Chippewa village is a very extraordinary character.
His name is Shinguaconse, _the Little Pine_, but he chooses to drop the
adjunct, and calls himself the Pine. He is not an hereditary chief, but
an elective or war-chief, and owes his dignity to his bravery and to his
eloquence; among these people, a man who unites both is sure to obtain
power. Without letters, without laws, without any arbitrary distinctions
of rank or wealth, and with a code of morality so simple, that upon
_that_ point they are pretty much on a par, it is superior natural
gifts, strength, and intelligence, that raise an Indian to distinction
and influence. He has not the less to fish for his own dinner, and build
his own canoe.

Shinguaconse led a band of warriors in the war of 1812, was at Fort
Malden, and in the battle of the Moravian towns. Besides being eloquent
and brave he was a famous conjuror. He is now a Christian, with all his
family; and Mr. MacMurray finds him a most efficient auxiliary in
ameliorating the condition of his people. When the traders on the
opposite side endeavoured to seduce him back to his old habit of
drinking, he told them, "When I wanted it you would not give it to me;
now I do not want it you try to force it upon me; drink it yourselves!"
and turned his back.

The ease with which liquor is procured from the opposite shore, and the
bad example of many of the soldiers and traders are, however, a serious
obstacle to the missionary's success. Nor is the love of whisky confined
to the men. Mrs. MacMurray imitated with great humour the deportment of
a tipsy squaw, dragging her blanket after her, with one corner over her
shoulder, and singing, in most blissful independence and defiance of her
lordly husband, a song, of which the burden is,--

  "The Englishman will give me some of his milk!
  I will drink the Englishman's milk!"

Her own personal efforts have reclaimed many of these wretched

Next to the passion for ardent spirits is the passion for gambling.
Their common game of chance is played with beans, or with small bones,
painted of different colours; and these beans have been as fatal as ever
were the dice in Christendom. They will gamble away even their blankets
and moccasins; and while the game lasts not only the players but the
lookers-on, are in a perfect ecstacy of suspense and agitation.

Mr. MacMurray says, that when the Indians are here during the fishing
season from the upper waters of the lake his rooms are crowded with
them. Wherever there is an open door they come in. "It is _impossible_
to escape from an Indian who chooses to inflict his society on you, or
wishes for yours. He comes at all hours, not having the remotest idea of
convenience or inconvenience, or of the possibility of intrusion. There
is absolutely no remedy but to sit still and endure. I have them in my
room sometimes without intermission, from sunrise to sunset." He added,
that they never took anything, nor did the least injury, except that
which necessarily resulted from their vile, dirty habits, and the smell
of their _kinnikinic_, which together, I should think, are quite
_enough_. Those few which are now here, and the women especially, are
always lounging in and out, coming to Mrs. MacMurray about every little
trifle, and very frequently about nothing at all.

Sir John Colborne took a strong interest in the conversion and
civilisation of the Indians, and though often discouraged did not
despair. He promised to found a village, and build log-houses for the
converts here as at Coldwater (on Lake Simcoe); but this promise has not
been fulfilled, nor is it likely to be so. I asked, very naturally,
"Why, if the Indians wish for log-huts, do they not build them? They are
on the verge of the forest, and the task is not difficult." I was told
it was impossible; that they neither _could_ nor _would_!--that this
sort of labour is absolutely inimical to their habits. It requires more
strength than the women possess; and for the men to fell wood and carry
logs were an unheard-of degradation. Mrs. MacMurray is very anxious that
these houses should be built because she thinks it will keep her
converts stationary. Whether their morality, cleanliness, health and
happiness, will be thereby improved, I doubt; and the present governor
seems to have very decidedly made up his mind on the matter. I should
like to see an Indian brought to prefer a house to a wigwam, and live in
a house of his own building; but what is gained by building houses for
them? The promise was made however, and the Indians have no
comprehension of a change of governors being a change of principles.
They consider themselves deceived and ill-treated. Shinguaconse has
lately (last January) addressed a letter or speech to Sir Francis Head
on the subject, which is a curious specimen of expostulation. "My
father," he says; "you have made promises to me and to my children. You
promised me houses, but as yet nothing has been performed, although five
years are past. I am now growing very old, and to judge by the way you
have used me, I am afraid I shall be laid in my grave before I see any
of your promises fulfilled. Many of your children address you, and tell
you they are poor, and they are much better off than I am in everything.
I can say, in sincerity, that I am poor. I am like the beast of the
forest that has no shelter. I lie down on the snow, and cover myself
with the boughs of the trees. If the promises had been made by a person
of no standing, I should not be astonished to see his promises fail. But
_you_, who are so great in riches and in power, I am astonished that I
do not see your promises fulfilled! I would have been better pleased if
you had never made such promises to me, than that you should have made
them and not performed them."

Then follows a stroke of Indian irony.

"But, my father, perhaps I do not see clearly; I am old, and perhaps I
have lost my eye-sight; and if you should come to visit us, you might
discover these promises already performed! I have heard that you have
visited all parts of the country around. This is the only place you have
not yet seen; if you will promise to come I will have my little fish
(_i. e._ the white-fish) ready drawn from the water, that you may taste
of the food which sustains me."

Shinguaconse then complains, that certain of the French Canadians had
cut down their timber to sell it to the Americans, by permission of a
British magistrate, residing at St. Joseph's. He says, "Is this right? I
have never heard that the British had purchased our land and timber from
us. But whenever I say a word, they say, 'Pay no attention to him, he
knows nothing.' This will not do!"

He concludes with infinite politeness;

"And now, my father, I shall take my seat, and look towards your place,
that I may hear the answer you will send me between this time and

"And now, my father, I have done! I have told you some things that were
on my mind. I take you by the hand, and wish you a happy new year,
trusting that we may be allowed to see one another again."

       *     *     *     *     *


Mrs. Johnston told me that when her children are absent from her, and
she looks for their return, she has a sensation, a merely physical
sensation, like that she experienced when she first laid them to her
bosom; this yearning amounts at times to absolute pain, almost as
intolerable as the pang of child-birth, and is so common that the
Indians have a word to express it. The maternal instinct, like all the
other natural instincts, is strong in these people to a degree we can no
more conceive than we can their quick senses. As a cat deprived of its
kittens will suckle an animal of a different species, so an Indian woman
who has lost her child _must_ have another. "Bring me my son! or see me
die!" exclaimed a bereaved mother to her husband, and she lay down on
her mat, covered her head with her blanket, and refused to eat. The man
went and kidnapped one of the enemy's children, and brought it to her.
She laid it in her bosom, and was consoled. Here is the animal woman.

The mortality among the children is great among the unreclaimed Indians,
from want of knowing how to treat infantine maladies, and from want of
cleanliness. When dysentery is brought on from this cause, the children
almost invariably perish. When kept clean, the bark-cradles are
excellent things for their mode of life, and effectually preserve the
head and limbs of the infant from external injury.

When a young Chippewa of St. Mary's sees a young girl who pleases him,
and whom he wishes to marry, he goes and catches a loach, boils it, and
cuts off the tail, of which he takes the flat bone, and sticks it in his
hair. He paints himself bewitchingly, takes a sort of rude flute or
pipe, with two or three stops, which seems to be only used on these
amatory occasions, and walks up and down his village, blowing on his
flute, and looking, I presume, as sentimental as an Indian _can_ look.
This is regarded as an indication of his intentions, and throws all the
lodges in which there are young marriageable girls into a flutter,
though probably the fair one who is his secret choice is pretty well
aware of it. The next step is to make presents to the parents and
relatives of the young woman; if these are accepted, and his suit
prospers, he makes presents to his intended; and all that now remains is
to bring her home to his lodge. He neither swears before God to love her
till death--an oath which it depends not on his own will to keep, even
if it be not perjury in the moment it is pronounced--nor to endow her
with _all_ his worldly goods and chattels, when even by the act of union
she loses all right of property; but apparently the arrangements answer
all purposes, to their mutual satisfaction.

The names of the women are almost always derived from some objects or
appearances in nature, generally of a pleasing kind; the usual
termination _qua_ or _quay_, immediately blending with their
signification the idea of womanhood. Thus, my Indian mother is "the
green prairie," (woman). Mrs. Schoolcraft's name,
Obah,bahm,wa,wa,ge,zhe,go,quà, signifies literally the "sound which the
stars make rushing through the sky," and which I translate into _the
music of the spheres_. Mrs. MacMurray is "the wild rose:" one of her
youngest sisters is Wah,bu,nung,o,quà, the morning star (woman): another
is Omis,ka,bu,go,quà, (the woman of) "the red leaf."

       *     *     *     *     *

I went to-day to take leave of my uncle Wayish,ky, and found him
ill--poor fellow! he is fretting about his younger son. I learn with
pleasure that his daughter Zah,gah,see,ga,quà is likely to accompany me
to the Manitoolin Islands.

       *     *     *     *     *

                                                                July 31.

This last evening of my sojourn at the Sault-Sainte-Marie, is very
melancholy--we have been all very sad. Mr. and Mrs. MacMurray are to
accompany me in my voyage down the lake to the Manitoolin Islands,
having some business to transact with the governor:--so you see
Providence _does_ take care of me! how I could have got there alone, I
cannot tell, but I must have tried. At first we had arranged to go in a
bark canoe; the very canoe which belonged to Captain Back, and which is
now lying in Mr. MacMurray's court-yard: but our party will be large,
and we shall be encumbered with much baggage and provisions--not having
yet learned to live on the portable maize and fat: our voyage is likely
to take three days and a half, even if the weather continues favourable,
and if it do not, why we shall be obliged to put into some creek or
harbour, and pitch our tent, gipsy fashion, for a day or two. There is
not a settlement nor a habitation on our route, nothing but lake and
forest. The distance is about one hundred and seventy miles, rather more
than less; Mr. MacMurray therefore advises a bateau, in which, if we do
not get on so quickly, we shall have more space and comfort,--and thus
it is to be.

I am sorry to leave these kind, excellent people, but most I regret Mrs.

[Footnote 45: This amiable and interesting creature died a few years

     *     *     *     *      *


                                                               August 1.

The morning of our departure rose bright and beautiful, and the loading
and arranging our little boat was a scene of great animation. I thought
I had said all my adieus the night before, but at early dawn my good
Neengai came paddling across the river with various kind offerings for
her daughter Wa,sàh,ge,wo,nò,quá, which she thought might be pleasant or
useful, and more _last_ affectionate words from Mrs. Schoolcraft. We
then exchanged a long farewell embrace, and she turned away with tears,
got into her little canoe, which could scarcely contain two persons, and
handling her paddle with singular grace and dexterity, shot over the
blue water, without venturing once to look back! I leaned over the side
of our boat, and strained my eyes to catch a last glimpse of the white
spray of the rapids, and her little canoe skimming over the expanse
between, like a black dot: and this was the last I saw of my dear good
Chippewa mamma!

Meantime we were proceeding rapidly down the beautiful river, and
through its winding channels. Our party consisted of Mr. and Mrs.
MacMurray and their lovely boy; myself; and the two Indian girls--my
cousin Zah,gah,see,ga,quà, and Angelique, the child's attendant.

These two girls were, for Indians, singularly beautiful; they would have
been beautiful anywhere. Angelique, though of unmixed Indian blood, has
a face of the most perfect oval, a clear brown complexion, the long,
half-shaded eye, which the French call _coupé en amande_; the nose
slightly aquiline, with the proud nostril open and well defined;
dazzling teeth;--in short, her features had been faultless, but that her
mouth is a little too large--but then, to amend that, her lips are like
coral: and a more perfect figure I never beheld. Zah,gàh,see,ga,quà is
on a less scale, and her features more decidedly Indian.

We had a small, but compact and well-built boat, the seats of which we
covered with mats, blankets, buffalo skins, cloaks, shawls, &c.: we had
four voyageurs, Masta, Content, Le Blanc, and Pierrot; a very different
set from those who brought me from Mackinaw: they were all Canadian
voyageurs of the true breed, that is, half-breed, showing the Indian
blood as strongly as the French. Pierrot, worthy his name, was a most
comical fellow; Masta, a great talker, amused me exceedingly; Content
was our steersman and captain; and Le Blanc, who was the best singer,
generally led the song, to which the others responded in chorus.

They had a fixed daily allowance of fat pork, Indian meal, and tobacco:
finding that the latter was not agreeable to me, though I took care not
to complain, they always contrived with genuine politeness to smoke out
of my way, and to leeward.


After passing Sugar Island, we took the channel to the left, and entered
the narrow part of the lake between St. Joseph's Island and the
mainland. We dined upon a small picturesque islet, consisting of ledges
of rock, covered with shrubs and abounding with whortleberries; on the
upper platform we arranged an awning or shade, by throwing a sail over
some bushes, and made a luxuriant dinner, succeeded by a basin of good
tea; meantime, on the rocky ledge below, Pierrot was making a
_galette_, and Masta frying pork.

Dinner being over, we proceeded, coasting along the north shore of St.
Joseph's Island. There is, in the interior, an English settlement, and a
village of Indians. The principal proprietor, who is a magistrate and
justice of the peace; has two Indian women living with him--two sisters,
and a family by each!--such are the examples sometimes set to the
Indians on our frontiers.

In the evening we came to an island consisting of a flat ledge of rock,
on which were the remains of a former camp-fire, surrounded by tall
trees and bushes: here we pitched our little marquee, and boiled our
kettle. The sun-set was most glorious, with some floating ominous
clouds. The stars and the fire-flies came out together: the latter
swarmed around us, darting in and out among the trees, and gliding and
sparkling over the surface of the water. Unfortunately the mosquitoes
swarmed too, notwithstanding the antipathy which is said to exist
between the mosquito and the fire-fly. We made our beds by spreading
mats and blankets under us; and then, closing the curtain of the tent,
Mr. MacMurray began a very effective slaughter and expulsion of the
mosquitoes. We laid ourselves down, Mrs. MacMurray in the middle, with
her child in her bosom; Mr. MacMurray on one side, myself at the other,
and the two Indian girls at our feet: the voyageurs, rolled in their
blankets, lay down on the naked rock round the fire we had built--and
thus we all slept. I must needs confess that I found my rocky bed rather
uneasy, and my bones ached as I turned from side to side, but this was
only a beginning. The night was close and sultry, and just before dawn I
was wakened by a tremendous clap of thunder; down came the storm in its
fury, the lake swelling and roaring, the lightning gambolling over the
rocks and waves, the rain falling in a torrent; but we were well
sheltered, for the men had had the precaution, before they slept, to
throw a large oil cloth over the top of our little marquee. The storm
ceased suddenly: daylight came, and soon afterwards we again embarked.
We had made forty-five miles.

       *     *     *     *     *


The next morning was beautiful: the sun shone brightly, though the lake
was yet heaving and swelling from the recent storm,--altogether it was
like the laughing eyes and pouting lips of a half-appeased beauty. About
nine o'clock we ran down into a lovely bay, and landed to breakfast on a
little lawn surrounded by high trees and a thick wood, abounding in
rattlesnakes and squirrels. Luckily for us, the storm had dispersed the

Keeping clear of the covert to avoid these fearful snakes, I strayed
down by the edge of the lake, and found a tiny creek, which answered all
purposes, both of bath and mirror, and there I arranged my toilette in
peace and security. Returning to our breakfast-fire, I stood some
moments to admire the group around it--it was a perfect picture: there
lay the little boat rocking on the shining waves, and near it Content
was washing plates and dishes; Pierrot and Masta were cooking; the two
Indian girls were spreading the tablecloth on the turf. Mrs. MacMurray
and her baby--looking like the Madonna and child in the "Repose in
Egypt,"--were seated under a tree; while Mr. MacMurray, having suspended
his shaving-glass against the trunk of a pine, was shaving himself with
infinite gravity and _sang froid_. Never, I think, were the graceful,
the wild, the comic, so strangely combined!--add the rich background of
mingled foliage, the murmur of leaves and waters, and all the glory of a
summer morning!--it was very beautiful!

We breakfasted in much mirth, and then we set off again. The channel
widened, the sky became overcast, the wind freshened, and at length blew
hard. Though this part of the lake is protected by St. Joseph's and the
chain of islands from the swell of the main lake, still the waves rose
high, the wind increased, we were obliged to take in a reef or two of
our sail, and scudded with an almost fearful rapidity before the wind.
In crossing a wide, open expanse of about twenty miles, we became all at
once very silent, then very grave, then very pathetic, and at last
extremely sick.

On arriving among the channels of the Rattlesnake Islands, the swell of
course subsided; we landed on a most beautiful mass of rock, and lighted
our fire under a group of pines and sycamores; but we were too sick to
eat. Mr. MacMurray heated some port wine and water, into which we broke
biscuit, and drank it most picturesquely out of a slop basin--too
thankful to get it! Thus recruited, we proceeded. The wind continued
fresh and fair, the day kept up fine, and our sail was most delightful
and rapid. We passed successive groups of islands, countless in number,
various in form, little fairy Edens--populous with life and love, and
glowing with light and colour under a meridian sun. I remember we came
into a circular basin, of about three miles in diameter, so surrounded
with islands, that when once within the circle, I could perceive neither
ingress nor egress; it was as if a spell of enchantment had been wrought
to keep us there for ever; and I really thought we were going with our
bows upon the rocks, when suddenly we darted through a narrow portal,
not above two or three yards in width, and found ourselves in another
wide expanse, studded with larger islands. At evening we entered the
Missasagua river, having come sixty miles, right before the wind, since


The Missasagua (_i. e._ the river with two mouths) gives its name to a
tribe of the Chippewa nation, once numerous and powerful, now scattered
and degraded. This is the river called by Henry the _Missasaki_, where
he found a horde of Indians who had never seen a white man before, and
who, in the excess of their hospitality, crammed him with "a porridge of
sturgeons' roe," which I apprehend, from his description, would be
likely to prove "caviare to the general." There is a remnant of these
Indians here still. We found a log-hut with a half-breed family, in the
service of the fur company; and two or three bark wigwams. The rest of
the village (dwellings and inhabitants together) had gone down to the
Manitoolin. A number of little Red-skins were running about, half, or
rather indeed wholly, naked--happy, healthy, active, dirty little
urchins, resembling, except in colour, those you may see swarming in an
Irish cabin. Poor Ireland! The worst Indian wigwam is not worse than
some of her dwellings; and the most miserable of these Indians would
spurn the destiny of an Irish _poor-slave_--for he is at least Lord o'er
himself. As the river is still famous for sturgeon, we endeavoured to
procure some for supper, and had just prepared a large piece to roast,
(suspended by a cord to three sticks,) when one of those horrid curs so
rife about the Indian dwellings ran off with it. We were asked to take
up our night's lodging in the log-hut, but it was so abominably dirty
and close, we all preferred the shore. While they pitched the marquee, I
stood for some time looking at a little Indian boy, who, in a canoe
about eight feet in length, was playing the most extraordinary gambols
in the water; the buoyant thing seemed alive beneath him, and to obey
every movement of his paddle. He shot backwards and forwards, described
circles, whirled himself round and round, made pirouettes, exhibited, in
short, as many tricks as I have seen played by a spirited English boy on
a thorough-bred pony.


The mosquitoes were in great force, but we began by sweeping them out of
the tent with boughs, and then, closing the curtain, we executed
judgment on the remainder by wholesale. We then lay down in the same
order as last night; and Mrs. MacMurray sang her little boy to sleep
with a beautiful hymn. I felt all the luxury of having the turf under me
instead of the rock, and slept well till wakened before dawn by some
animal sniffing and snuffing close to my ear. I commanded my alarm, and
did not disturb those who were enjoying a sound sleep near me, and the
intruder turned out to be a cow belonging to the hut, who had got her
nose under the edge of the tent. We set off early, and by sunrise had
passed down the eastern channel of the river, and swept into the lake.
It was a lovely morning, soft and calm; there was no breath of wind; no
cloud in the sky, no vapour in the air; and the little islands lay
around "under the opening eyelids of the morn," dewy, and green, and
silent. We made eighteen miles before breakfast; and then pursued our
way through Aird's bay, and among countless islands of all shapes and
sizes; I cannot describe their beauty, nor their harmonious variety: at
last we perceived in the east the high ridge called the mountains of La
Cloche. They are really respectable hills in this level country, but
hardly mountains: they are all of limestone, and partially clothed in
wood. All this coast is very rocky and barren; but it is said to be rich
in mineral productions. About five in the evening we landed at La

Here we found the first and only signs of civilised society during our
voyage. The north-west company have an important station here; and two
of their principal clerks, Mr. MacBean and Mr. Buthune were on the spot.
We were received with much kindness, and pressed to spend the night, but
there was yet so much day-light, and time was so valuable, that we
declined. The factory consists of a large log-house, an extensive store
to contain the goods bartered with the Indians, and huts inhabited by
work people, hunters, voyageurs, and others; a small village, in short,
and a number of boats and canoes of all sizes were lying in the bay. It
is not merely the love of gain that induces well-educated
men--gentlemen--to pass twenty years of their lives in such a place as
this; you must add to the prospective acquirement of a large fortune,
two possessions which men are most wont to covet--power and freedom. The
table was laid in their hall for supper, and we carried off, with their
good will, a large mess of broiled fish, dish and all, and a can of
milk, which delicious viands we discussed in our boat with great


The place derives its name from a large rock which they say, being
struck, vibrates like a bell. But I had no opportunity of trying the
experiment, therefore cannot tell how this may be: Henry, however,
mentions this phenomenon; and the Indians regard the spot as sacred and
enchanted. Just after sunset, we reached one of the most enchanting of
these enchanting or enchanted isles. It rose sloping from the shore, in
successive ledges of picturesque rocks, all fringed with trees and
bushes, and clothed in many places with a species of grey lichen, nearly
a foot deep. With a sort of anticipative wisdom (like that of a pig
before a storm) I gathered a quantity of this lichen for our bed, and
spread it under the mats; for in fear of the rattlesnakes and other
creeping things, we had pitched our resting place on the naked rock. The
men had built up the fire in a sheltered place below, and did not
perceive that a stem of a blasted pine, about twenty feet in length, had
fallen across the recess; it caught the flame. This at first delighted
us and the men too; but soon it communicated to another tree against
which it was leaning, and they blazed away together in a column of
flame. We began to fear that it might communicate to the dried moss and
the bushes, and cause a general conflagration; the men prevented this,
however, by clearing a space around them. The waves, the trees and
bushes and fantastic rocks, and the figures and faces of the men, caught
the brilliant light as it flashed upon them with a fitful glare--the
rest being lost in deepest shadow. Wildly magnificent it was! beyond all
expression beautiful, and awful to!--the night, the solitude, the dark
weltering waters, the blaze which put out the mild stars which just
before had looked down upon us in their tender radiance!--I never beheld
such a scene. By the light of this gigantic torch we supped and prepared
our beds. As I lay down to rest, and closed my eyes on the flame which
shone through our tent curtain, I thought that perhaps the wind might
change in the night, and the flakes and sparks be carried over to us,
and to the beds of lichen, dry and inflammable as tinder; but fatigue
had subdued me so utterly, that even this apprehension could not keep me

The burning trees were still smouldering; daylight was just creeping up
the sky, and some few stars yet out, when we bestirred ourselves, and in
a very few minutes we were again afloat: we were now steering towards
the south-east, where the Great Manitoolin Island was dimly discerned.
There was a deep slumbrous calm all around, as if nature had not yet
awoke from her night's rest: then the atmosphere began to kindle with
gradual light; it grew brighter and brighter: towards the east, the lake
and sky were intermingling in radiance; and _then_, just there, where
they seemed flowing and glowing together like a bath of fire, we saw
what seemed to us the huge black hull of a vessel, with masts and spars
rising against the sky--but we knew not what to think or to believe! As
we kept on rowing in that direction, it grew more distinct, but lessened
in size: it proved to be a great heavy-built schooner, painted black,
which was going up the lake against wind and current. One man was
standing in her bows, with an immense oar, which he slowly pulled,
walking backwards and forwards; but vain seemed all his toil, for still
the vessel lay like a black log, and moved not: we rowed up to the side,
and hailed him--"What news?"


And the answer was that William the Fourth was dead, and that Queen
Victoria reigned in his place! We sat silent looking at each other, and
even in that very moment the orb of the sun rose out of the lake, and
poured its beams full in our dazzled eyes.

We asked if the governor were at the Manitoolin Island? No; he was not
there; but the chief officer of the Indian department had come to
represent him, and the presents were to be given out to the assembled
Indians this morning. We urged the men to take to their oars with
spirit, and held our course due east down by the woody shores of this
immense island; among fields of reeds and rushes, and almost under the
shadow of the towering forests.

Meantime, many thoughts came into my mind, some tears too into my
eyes--not certainly for that dead king, who in ripe age and in all
honour was gathered to the tomb--but for that living queen so young and

  "As many hopes hang on that noble head
  As there hang blossoms on the boughs in May!"

And what will become of _them_--of _her_! The idea that even here, in
this new world of woods and waters, amid these remote wilds, to her so
utterly unknown, her power reaches and her sovereignty is acknowledged,
filled me with compassionate awe. I say _compassionate_, for if she feel
in their whole extent the liabilities of her position, alas for her! And
if she feel them not!--O worse and worse!

I tried to recall her childish figure and features. I thought over all I
had heard concerning her. I thought she was not such a thing as they
could make a mere pageant of; for _that_ there is too much within--too
little without. And what _will_ they make of her? For at eighteen she
will hardly make anything of them--I mean of the men and women round
her. It is of the woman I think, more than of the queen; for as a part
of the state machinery she will do quite as well as another--better,
perhaps: so far her youth and sex are absolutely in her favour, or
rather in _our_ favour. If she be but simple-minded, and true-hearted,
and straightforward, with the common portion of intellect--if a royal
education have not blunted in her the quick perceptions and pure kind
instincts of the woman--if she has only had fair play, and carries into
business plain distinct notions of right and wrong--and the fine moral
sense that is not to be confounded by diplomatic verbiage and
expediency--she will do better for us than a whole cabinet full of cut
and dried officials, with Talleyrand at the head of them. And what a
fair heritage is this which has fallen to her! A land young like
herself--a land of hopes--and fair, most fair! Does she know--does she
care any thing about it?--while hearts are beating warm for her, and
voices bless her--and hands are stretched out towards her--even from
these wild lake shores?[46]

These thoughts were in my mind, or something like to these, as with aid
of sail and oar we were gliding across the bay of Manitoolin. This bay
is about three miles wide at the entrance, and runs about twelve miles
in depth, in a southern direction. As we approached the further end, we
discerned the whole line of shore, rising in bold and beautiful relief
from the water, to be covered with wigwams, and crowded with Indians.
Suddenly we entered a little opening or channel, which was not visible
till we were just upon it, and rounding a promontory, to my infinite
delight and surprise, we came upon an unexpected scene,--a little bay
within the bay. It was a beautiful basin, nearly an exact circle, of
about three miles in circumference; in the centre lay a little wooded
island, and all around, the shores rose sloping from the margin of the
lake, like an amphitheatre, covered with wigwams and lodges, thick as
they could stand amid intermingled trees; and beyond these arose the
tall pine forest crowning and enclosing the whole. Some hundred canoes
were darting hither and thither on the waters, or gliding along the
shore, and a beautiful schooner lay against the green bank--its tall
masts almost mingling with the forest trees, and its white sails half
furled, and half gracefully drooping.

We landed, and were received with much politeness by Mr. Jarvis, the
chief superintendent of Indian affairs, and by Major Anderson, the
Indian agent; and a space was cleared to pitch our tent, until room
could be made for our accommodation in one of the government log-houses.

[Footnote 46: The reader will have the goodness to remark that all this
passage relating to the Queen stands verbatim in the original printed in

       *     *     *     *     *


The word Manitoolin is a corruption or frenchification of the Indian
_Manitoawahning_, which signifies the "dwelling of spirits." They have
given this name to a range of islands in Lake Huron, which extends from
the channel of St. Mary's river nearly to Cape Hurd, a distance of about
two hundred miles. Between this range of islands and the shore of the
mainland, there is an archipelago, consisting of many thousand islands
or islets.[47]

The Great Manitoolin, on which I now am, is, according to the last
survey, ninety-three miles in length, but very narrow, and so deeply and
fantastically indented with gulfs and bays, that it was supposed to
consist of many distinct islands. This is the second year that the
presents to the Indians have been issued on this spot. The idea of
forming on the Great Manitoolin, a settlement of the Indians, and
inviting those tribes scattered round the lakes to adopt it as a
residence, has been for the last few years entertained by the Indian
department; I say for the last few years, because it did not originate
with the present governor; though I believe it has his entire
approbation, as a means of removing them more effectually from all
contact with the white settlers. It is objected to this measure that by
cutting off the Indians from agricultural pursuits, and throwing them
back upon their habits of hunting and fishing, it will retard their
civilisation; that removing them from the reserved land among the
whites, their religious instruction will be rendered a matter of
difficulty; that the islands, being masses of barren rock, are almost
incapable of cultivation; and that they are so far north-west, that it
would be difficult to raise even a little Indian corn[48]: and hence the
plan of settling the Indians here has been termed _unjustifiable_.

[Footnote 47: The islands which fringe the north shores of Lake Huron
from Lake George to Penetanguishine have been estimated by Lieut.
Bayfield (in his official survey) at upwards of thirty-three thousand.]

[Footnote 48: It appears, however, from the notes of the missionary
Elliott, that a great number of Ottawas and Portoganasees had been
residing on the Great Manitoolin two or three years previous to 1834,
and had cultivated a portion of land.]


It is true that the smaller islands are rocky and barren; but the Great
Manitoolin, Drummond's, and St. Joseph's, are fertile. The soil on which
I now tread is rich and good; and all the experiments in cultivation
already tried here have proved successful. As far as I can judge, the
intentions of the government are benevolent and _justifiable_. There are
a great number of Indians, Ottawas, and Pottowottomies, who receive
annual presents from the British government, and are residing on the
frontiers of the American settlements, near Lake Michigan. These people,
having disposed of their lands, know not where to go, and it is the wish
of our government to assemble all those Indians who are our allies, and
receive our annual presents within the limits of the British
territory--and this for reasons which certainly do appear very
_reasonable_ and politic.

There are three thousand seven hundred Indians, Ottawas, Chippewas,
Pottowottomies, Winnebagos, and Menomonies, encamped around us. The
issue of the presents has just concluded, and appears to have given
universal satisfaction; yet, were you to see their trifling nature, you
would wonder that they think it worth while to travel from one to five
hundred miles or more to receive them; and by an ordinance of the Indian
department, every individual must present himself _in person_ to receive
the allotted portion. The common equipment of each chief or warrior
(that is, each man) consists of three quarters of a yard of blue cloth,
three yards of linen, one blanket, half an ounce of thread, four strong
needles, one comb, one awl, one butcher's knife, three pounds of
tobacco, three pounds of ball, nine pounds of shot, four pounds of
powder, and six flints. The equipment of a woman consists of one yard
and three quarters of coarse woollen, two yards and a half of printed
calico, one blanket, one ounce of thread, four needles, one comb, one
awl, one knife. For each child there was a portion of woollen cloth and
calico. Those chiefs who had been wounded in battle, or had
extraordinary claims, had some little articles in extra quantity, and a
gay shawl or handkerchief. To each principal chief of a tribe, the
allotted portion of goods for his tribe was given, and he made the
distribution to his people individually; and such a thing as injustice
or partiality on one hand, or a murmur of dissatisfaction on the other,
seemed equally unknown. There were, besides, extra presents of flags,
medals, chiefs' guns, rifles, trinkets, brass kettles, the choice and
distribution of which were left to the superintendent, with this
proviso, that the expense on the whole was never to exceed nine pounds
sterling for every one hundred chiefs or warriors.

While the Indians remain on the island, which is generally about five
days, they receive rations of Indian corn and tallow (fat melted down);
with this they make a sort of soup, boiling the Indian corn till it is
of the consistence of porridge,--then adding a handful of tallow and
some salt, and stirring it well. Many a kettleful of this delectable
mess did I see made, without feeling any temptation to taste it; but
Major Anderson says it is not so _very_ bad, when a man is _very_
hungry, which I am content to believe on his testimony. On this and on
the fish of the bay they live while here.

       *     *     *     *     *

As soon as the distribution of the presents was over, a grand council of
all the principal chiefs was convened, that they might be informed of
the will of their great father.

You must understand, that on the promontory I have mentioned as shutting
in the little bay on the north side, there are some government
edifices; one large house, consisting of one room, as accommodation for
the superintendent and officers; also a carpenter's house and a magazine
for the stores and presents, all of logs. A deal plank, raised on
tressels, served as a table; there were a few stools and benches of
deal-board, and two raised wooden platforms for beds: such were the
furniture and decorations of the grand council-hall in which the
_representative_ of the representative of their Great Mother had now
assembled her red children; a flag was displayed in front upon a lofty
pole--a new flag, with a new device, on which I saw troops of Indians
gazing with much curiosity and interest, and the meaning of which was
now to be explained to them.

The council met about noon. At the upper end of the log-house I have
mentioned, stood the chief superintendent, with his secretary or grand
vizier, Major Anderson; the two interpreters, and some other officials.
At some little distance I sat with Mr. and Mrs. MacMurray, and a young
son of the lieutenant-governor; near me I perceived three Methodist
missionaries and two Catholic priests. The chiefs came in, one after
another, without any order of precedence. All those whom I had seen at
Mackinaw recognised me immediately, and their dusky faces brightened as
they held out their hands with the customary _bojou!_ There was my old
acquaintance the Rain, looking magnificent, and the venerable old Ottawa
chief, Kish,ke,nick (the Cut-hand). The other remarkable chiefs of the
Ottawas were Gitchee, Mokomaun (the Great or Long-knife); So,wan,quet
(the Forked-tree); Kim,e,ne,chau,zun (the Bustard); Mocomaun,ish (the
Bad-knife); Pai,mau,se,gai (the Sun's course in a cloudless sky); and
As,si,ke,nack (the Blackbird); the latter a very remarkable man, of whom
I shall have to say more presently. Of the Chippewas, the most
distinguished chiefs were, Aisence (the Little Clam); Wai,sow,win,de,bay
(the Yellow-head), and Shin,gua,cose (the Pine); these three are
Christians. There were besides Ken,ne,bec,áno (the Snake's-tail);
Muc,konce,e,wa,yun (the Cub's-skin): and two others, whose style was
quite grandiloquent,--Tai,bau,se,gai (Bursts of Thunder at a distance),
and Me,twai,crush,kau (the sound of waves breaking on the rocks).

Nearly opposite to me was a famous Pottowottomie chief and conjuror,
called the Two Ears. He was most fantastically dressed, and hideously
painted, and had two large clusters of swan's down depending from each
ear--I suppose in illustration of his name. There were three men with
their faces blacked with grease and soot, their hair dishevelled, and
their whole appearance studiously squalid and miserable: I was told they
were in mourning for near relations. With these exceptions the dresses
were much what I have already described; but the chief whom I
immediately distinguished from the rest, even before I knew his name,
was my cousin, young Waub-Ojeeg, the son of Wayish,ky; in height he
towered above them all, being about six feet three or four. His dress
was equally splendid and tasteful; he wore a surtout of fine blue cloth,
under which was seen a shirt of gay colours, and his father's medal hung
on his breast. He had a magnificent embroidered belt of wampum, from
which hung his scalping-knife and pouch. His leggings (metasses) were of
scarlet cloth beautifully embroidered, with rich bands or garters
depending to his ankle. Round his head was an embroidered band or
handkerchief, in which were stuck four wing-feathers of the war-eagle,
two on each side--the testimonies of his prowess as a warrior. He held a
tomahawk in his hand. His features were fine, and his countenance not
only mild, but almost femininely soft. Altogether he was in dress and
personal appearance the finest specimen of his race I had yet seen; I
was quite proud of my adopted kinsman.

He was seated at some distance; but in far too near propinquity, for in
truth they almost touched me, sat a group of creatures--human beings I
must suppose them--such as had never been seen before within the lines
of civilisation. I had remarked them in the morning surrounded by a
group of Ottawas, among whom they seemed to excite as much wonder and
curiosity as among ourselves: and when I inquired who and what they
were, I was told they were _cannibals_ from the Red River, the title
being, I suspect, quite gratuitous, and merely expressive of the
disgust they excited. One man had his hair cut short on the top of his
head, and it looked like a circular blacking-brush, while it grew long
in a fringe all round, hanging on his shoulders. The skins thrown round
them seemed on the point of rotting off; and their attitude, when
squatted on the ground, was precisely that of the larger ape I have seen
in a menagerie. More hideous, more pitiable specimens of humanity in its
lowest, most degraded state, can hardly be conceived; melancholy,
squalid, stupid--and yet not fierce. They had each received a kettle and
a gun by way of encouragement.

The whole number of chiefs assembled was seventy-five; and take notice
that the half of them were smoking, that it was blazing noontide, and
that every door and window was filled up with the eager faces of the
crowd without, and then you may imagine that even a scene like this was
not to be enjoyed without some drawbacks; in fact, it was a sort of
purgatory to more senses than one, but I made up my mind to endure, and
did so. I observed that although there were many hundreds around the
house, not one woman, outside or inside, was visible during the whole
time the council lasted.

When all were assembled, and had seated themselves on the floor without
hurry, noise, or confusion, there was a pause of solemn preparation, and
then Mr. Jarvis rose and addressed them. At the end of every sentence,
As,si,ke,nack (the Blackbird), our chief interpreter here, translated
the meaning to the assembly, raising his voice to a high pitch, and
speaking with much oratorical emphasis, the others responding at
intervals, "Ha!" but listening generally in solemn silence. This man,
the Blackbird, who understands English well, is the most celebrated
orator of his nation. They relate with pride that on one occasion he
began a speech at sunrise, and that it lasted without intermission till
sunset: the longest breathed of our parliament orators must yield, I
think, to the Blackbird.

The address of the superintendent was in these words:--

"Children,--When your Great Father, the lieutenant-governor, parted with
his Red children last year at this place, he promised again to meet
them here at the council-fire, and witness in person the grand delivery
of presents now just finished.

"To fulfil this engagement, your Great Father left his residence at
Toronto, and proceeded on his way to the Great Manitoolin Island, as far
as Lake Simcoe. At this place, a messenger, who had been dispatched from
Toronto, overtook him, and informed him of the death of our Great
Father, on the other side of the Great Salt Lake, and the accession of
the Queen Victoria. It consequently became necessary for your Great
Father, the lieutenant-governor, to return to the seat of his
government, and hold a council with his chief men.

"Children!--Your Great Father, the lieutenant-governor, has deputed me
to express to you his regret and disappointment at being thus
unexpectedly deprived of the pleasure which he had promised to himself,
in again seeing all his Red children, and in taking by the hand the
chiefs and warriors of the numerous tribes now here assembled.

"Children!--I am now to communicate to you a matter in which many of you
are deeply interested. Listen with attention, and bear well in mind what
I say to you.

"Children!--Your Great Father the King had determined that presents
should be continued to be given to all Indians resident in the Canadas.

"But presents will be given to Indians residing in the United States
only for three years, including the present delivery.

"Children!--The reasons why presents will not be continued to the
Indians residing in the United States I will explain to you.

"First: All our countrymen who resided in the United States forfeited
their claim to protection from the British government, from the moment
their Great Father the King lost possession of that country.
Consequently the Indians have no right to expect that their Great Father
will continue to them what he does not continue to his own white

"Secondly: The Indians of the United States, who served in the late
war, have already received from the British government more than has
been received by the soldiers of their Great Father, who have fought for
him for twenty years.

"Thirdly: Among the rules which civilised nations are bound to attend
to, there is one which forbids your Great Father to give arms and
ammunition to Indians of the United States, who are fighting against the
government under which they live.

"Fourthly: The people of England have, through their representatives in
the great council of the nation, uttered great complaints at the expense
attendant upon a continuation of the expenditure of so large a sum of
money upon Indian presents.

"But, Children! let it be distinctly understood, that the British
government has not come to a determination to cease to give presents to
the Indians of the United States. On the contrary, the government of
your Great Father will be most happy to do so, provided they live in the
British empire. Therefore, although your Great Father is willing that
his Red children should all become permanent settlers in the island, it
matters not in what part of the British empire they reside. They may go
across the Great Salt Lake to the country of their Great Father the
King, and there reside, and there receive their presents; or they may
remove to any part of the provinces of Upper or Lower Canada, New
Brunswick, Nova Scotia, or any other British colony, and yet receive
them. But they cannot and must not expect to receive them after the end
of three years, if they continue to reside within the limits of the
United States.

"Children!--The Long Knives have complained (and with justice too) that
your Great Father, whilst he is at peace with them, has supplied his Red
children residing in their country, with whom the Long Knives are at
war, with guns and powder and ball.

"Children!--This, I repeat to you, is against the rules of civilised
nations, and if continued, will bring on war between your Great Father
and the Long Knives.

"Children!--You must therefore come and live under the protection of
your Great Father, or renounce the advantage which you have so long
enjoyed, of annually receiving valuable presents from him.

"Children!--I have one thing more to observe to you. There are many
clergymen constantly visiting you for the avowed purpose of instructing
you in religious principles. Listen to them with attention when they
talk to you on that subject; but at the same time keep always in view,
and bear it well in your minds, that they have nothing whatever to do
with your temporal affairs. Your Great Father who lives across the Great
Salt Lake is your guardian and protector, and he only. He has
relinquished his claim to this large and beautiful island, on which we
are assembled, in order that you may have a home of your own quite
separate from his white children. The soil is good, and the waters which
surround the shores of this island are abundantly supplied with the
finest fish. If you cultivate the soil with only moderate industry, and
exert yourselves to obtain fish, you can never want, and your Great
Father will continue to bestow annually on all those who permanently
reside here, or in any part of his dominions, valuable presents, and
will from time to time visit you at this island, to behold your

"Children!--Your Great Father, the lieutenant-governor, as a token of
the above declaration, transmits to the Indians a silk British flag,
which represents the British empire. Within this flag, and immediately
under the symbol of the British crown, are delineated a British lion and
a beaver; by which is designated that the British people and the
Indians, the former being represented by the lion and the latter by the
beaver, are and will be alike regarded by their sovereign, so long as
their figures are imprinted on the British flag, or, in other words, so
long as they continue to inhabit the British empire!

"Children!--This flag is now yours. But it is necessary that some one
tribe should take charge of it, in order that it may be exhibited in
this island on all occasions, when your Great Father either visits or
bestows presents on his Red children. Choose, therefore, from among
you, the tribe to which you are willing to entrust it for safe keeping,
and remember to have it with you when we next meet again at this place.

"Children!--I bid you farewell. But before we part, let me express to
you the high satisfaction I feel at witnessing the quiet, sober, and
orderly conduct which has prevailed in the camp since my arrival. There
are assembled here upwards of three thousand persons, composed of
different tribes. I have not seen nor heard of any wrangling or
quarrelling among you; I have not seen even one man, woman, or child, in
a state of intoxication.

"Children!--Let me entreat you to abstain from indulging in the use of
fire-water. Let me entreat you to return immediately to your respective
homes, with the presents now in your possession. Let me warn you against
attempts that may be made by traders or other persons to induce you to
part with your presents, in exchange for articles of little

When Mr. Jarvis ceased speaking there was a pause, and then a fine
Ottawa chief (I think Mokomaun,ish) arose, and spoke at some length. He
said, that with regard to the condition on which the presents would be
issued in future, they would deliberate on the affair, and bring their
answer next year.

Shinguaconse then came forward and made a long and emphatic speech, from
which I gathered that he and his tribe requested that the principal
council-fire might be transferred to St. Mary's River, and objected to a
residence on the Manitoolin Island. After him spoke two other chiefs,
who signified their entire acquiescence in what their Great Father had
advised, and declared themselves satisfied to reside on the Manitoolin

After some deliberation among themselves, the custody of the flag was
consigned to the Ottawa tribe then residing on the island, and to their
principal chief, who came forward and received it with great ceremony.

There was then a distribution of extra presents, medals, silver gorgets,
and amulets, to some of the chiefs and relatives of chiefs whose conduct
was particularly approved, or whom it was thought expedient to gratify.

The council then broke up, and I made my way into the open air as
quickly as I could.

       *     *     *     *     *


In walking about among the wigwams to-day, I found some women on the
shore, making a canoe. The frame had been put together by the men. The
women were then joining the pieces of birch-bark, with the split
ligaments of the pine-root, which they called _wattup_. Other women were
employed in melting and applying the resinous gum, with which they smear
the seams, and render them impervious to the water. There was much
chattering and laughing meanwhile, and I never saw a merrier set of

This canoe, which was about eighteen feet in length, was finished before
night; and the next morning I saw it afloat.

A man was pointed out to me (a Chippewa from Lake Superior), who, about
three years ago, when threatened by starvation during his winter hunt,
had devoured his wife and one or two of his children. You shudder--so
did I; but since famine can prevail over every human feeling or
instinct, till the "pitiful mother hath sodden her own children," and a
woman devoured part of her lover[49], I do not think this wretched
creature must necessarily be a born monster of ferocity. His features
were very mild and sad--he is avoided by the other Chippewas here, and
not considered _respectable_; and this from an opinion they entertain,
that when a man has once tasted human flesh, he can relish no other: but
I must quit this abominable subject.

At sunset this evening, just as the air was beginning to grow cool,
Major Anderson proclaimed a canoe race, the canoes to be paddled by the
women only. The prize consisted of twenty-five pair of silver earrings
and other trinkets. I can give you no idea of the state of commotion
into which the whole camp, men and women and children, were thrown by
this announcement. Thirty canoes started, each containing twelve women,
and a man to steer. They were to go round the little island in the
centre of the bay, and return to the starting point,--the first canoe
which touched the shore to be the winner. They darted off together with
a sudden velocity, like that of an arrow from the bow. The Indians on
the shore ran backwards and forwards on the beach, exciting them to
exertion by loud cries, leaping into the air, whooping and clapping
their hands; and when at length the first canoe dashed up to the landing
place, it was as if all had gone at once distracted and stark mad. The
men, throwing themselves into the water, carried the winners out in
their arms, who were laughing and panting for breath; and then the women
cried "Ny'a! Ny'a!" and the men shouted "Ty'a!" till the pine woods rang

But all was good humour, and even good order, in the midst of this
confusion. There was no ill blood, not a dispute, not an outrage, not
even a _sound_ of unkindness or anger; these are certainly the most
good-natured, orderly savages imaginable! We are twenty white people,
with 3,700 of these wild creatures around us, and I never in my life
felt more security. I find it necessary, indeed, to suspend a blanket
before each of the windows when I am dressing in the morning; for they
have no idea of the possibility of being intrusive; they think "men's
eyes were made to look," and windows to be looked through; but, with
this exception, I never met with people more genuinely polite.

[Footnote 49: See the Voyage of the Blonde.]

       *     *     *     *     *


After a very tiring day, I was standing to-night at the door of our
log-house, looking out upon the tranquil stars, and admiring the peace
and tranquillity which reigned all around. Within the house Mrs.
MacMurray was hearing a young Chippewa read the Gospel, and the light of
a lamp above fell upon her beautiful face--very beautiful it was at
that moment--and on the dusky features of the Indian boy, akin to her
own, and yet how different! and on his silver armlets and feathered
head-dress. It was about nine o'clock, and though a few of the camp
fires were yet burning, it seemed that almost all had gone to rest. At
this moment old Solomon, the interpreter, came up, and told me that the
warriors had arranged to give me an exhibition of their war-dance, and
were then painting and preparing. In a few minutes more, the drum, and
the shriek, and the long tremulous whoop, were heard. A large crowd had
gathered silently in front of the house, leaving an open space in the
midst; many of them carried great blazing torches, made of the bark of
the pine rolled up into a cylinder. The innermost circle of the
spectators sat down, and the rest stood around; some on the stumps of
the felled trees, which were still at hand. I remember that a large
piece of a flaming torch fell on the naked shoulder of a savage, and he
jumped up with a yell which made me start; but they all laughed, and so
did he, and sat himself down again quietly.

Meantime the drumming and yelling drew nearer, and all at once a man
leaped like a panther into the very middle of the circle, and, flinging
off his blanket, began to caper and to flourish his war-club; then
another, and another, till there were about forty; then they stamped
round and round, and gesticulated a sort of fiercely grotesque
pantomime, and sent forth their hideous yells, while the glare of the
torches fell on their painted and naked figures, producing an effect
altogether quite indescribable. Then a man suddenly stopped before me,
and began a speech at the very top of his voice, so that it sounded like
a reiteration of loud cries; it was, in fact, a string of exclamations,
which a gentleman standing behind me translated as he went on. They were
to this purport:--"I am a Red-skin! I am a warrior! look on me! I am a
warrior! I am brave! I have fought! I have killed! I have killed my
enemies! I have eaten the tops of the hearts of my enemies! I have drunk
their blood! I have struck down seven Long-knives! I have taken their

This last vaunt he repeated several times with exultation, thinking,
perhaps, it must be particularly agreeable to a daughter of the
Red-coats; nothing was ever less so! and the human being who was thus
boasting stood within half a yard of me, his grim painted face and
gleaming eyes looking into mine!

A-propos to scalps; I have seen many of the warriors here, who had one
or more of these suspended as decorations to their dress; and they
seemed to me so much a part and parcel of the _sauvagerie_ around me,
that I looked on them generally without emotion or pain. But there was
one thing I never _could_ see without a start, and a thrill of
horror,--the scalp of _long fair hair_.

       *     *     *     *     *


Walking about early next morning, I saw that preparations for departure
had already commenced; all was movement, and bustle, and hurry; taking
down wigwams, launching canoes, tying up bundles and babies, cooking,
and "sacrificing" wretched dogs to propitiate the spirits, and procure a
favourable voyage. I came upon such a sacrifice just at the opposite
side of the point, and took to flight forthwith. No interest, no
curiosity, can overcome the sickness and abhorrence with which I shrink
from certain things; so I can tell you nothing of this grand ceremony,
which you will find described circumstantially by many less fastidious
or less sensitive travellers.

All the Christian Indians now on the island (about nine hundred in
number) are, with the exception of Mr. MacMurray's congregation from the
Sault, either Roman Catholics or Methodists.

I had some conversation with Father Crue, the Roman Catholic missionary,
a very clever and very zealous man, still in the prime of life. He has
been here two years, is indefatigable in his calling, or, as Major
Anderson said, "always on the go--up the lake and down--in every spot
where he had the hope of being useful." I heard the Methodists and
Churchmen complain greatly of his interference; but if he be a true
believer in his religion, his active zeal does him honour, I think.

One thing is most visible, certain, and undeniable, that the Roman
Catholic converts are in appearance, dress, intelligence, industry, and
general civilisation, superior to all the others.

A band of Ottawas, under the particular care of Father Crue, have
settled on the Manitoolin, about six miles to the south. They have large
plantations of corn and potatoes, and they have built log-huts, a chapel
for their religious services, and a house for their priest. I asked him
distinctly whether they had erected these buildings themselves: he said
they had.

Here, in the encampment, the Roman Catholic Ottawas have erected a large
temporary chapel of posts covered in with bark, the floor strewed over
with green boughs and mats, and an altar and crucifix at the end. In
front a bell is suspended between the forked branches of a pine. I have
heard them sing mass here, with every demonstration of decency and

The Methodists have two congregations; the Indians of the Credit, under
the direction of Peter Jones; and the Indians from Coldwater and the
Narrows, under a preacher whose name I forget,--both zealous men; but
the howling and weeping of these Methodist Indians, as they lie
grovelling on the ground in their religious services, struck me

Mr. MacMurray is the only missionary of the Church of England, and, with
all his zeal, and his peculiar means of influence and success, it cannot
be said that he is adequately aided and supported. "The English Church,"
said one of our most intelligent Indian agents, "either cannot or will
not, certainly _does not_, sow; therefore cannot expect to reap." The
zeal, activity, and benevolence of the travelling missionary Elliott are
beyond all praise; but his ministry is devoted to the back settlers more
than to the Indians. The Roman Catholic missions have been, of all, the
most active and persevering; next to these the Methodists. The
Presbyterian and the English Churches have been hitherto comparatively
indifferent and negligent.

       *     *     *     *     *

Information was brought to the superintendent, that a trader from
Detroit, with a boat laden with whisky and rum, was lying concealed in a
little cove near the entrance of the great bay, for the purpose of
waylaying the Indians, and bartering the whisky for their new blankets,
guns, and trinkets. I exclaimed with indignation!--but Mr. Jarvis did
better than exclaim; he sent off the Blackbird, with a canoe full of
stout men, to board the trader, and throw all the whisky into the lake,
and then desire the owner to bring any complaint or claim for
restitution down to Toronto; and this was done accordingly. The
Blackbird is a Christian, and extremely noted for his general good
conduct, and his declared enmity to the "dealers in fire-water."

       *     *     *     *     *


Yet a word more before I leave my Indians.

There is one subject on which all travellers in these regions--all who
have treated of the manners and modes of life of the north-west tribes,
are accustomed to expatiate with great eloquence and indignation, which
they think it incumbent on the gallantry and chivalry of Christendom to
denounce, as constituting the true badge and distinction of barbarism
and heathenism, opposed to civilisation and Christianity:--I mean the
treatment and condition of their women. The women, they say, are
"drudges," "slaves," "beasts of burthen," victims, martyrs, degraded,
abject, oppressed; that not only the cares of the household and
maternity, but the cares and labours proper to the men, fall upon them;
and they seem to consider no expression of disapprobation, and even
abhorrence, too strong for the occasion; and if there be any who should
feel inclined to modify such objurgations, or speak in excuse or
mitigation of the fact, he might well fear that the publication of such
opinions would expose him, in every review, to the death of Orpheus or

Luckily I have no such risk to run. Let but my woman's wit bestead me
here as much as my womanhood, and I will, as the Indians say, "tell you
a piece of my mind," and place the matter before you in another point of

Under one aspect of the question, all these gentlemen travellers are
right; they are right in their estimate of the condition of the Indian
squaws--they _are_ drudges, slaves: and they are right in the opinion,
that the condition of the women in any community is a test of the
advance of moral and intellectual cultivation in that community; but it
is not a test of the virtue or civilisation of the man; in these Indian
tribes, where the men are the noblest and bravest of their kind, the
women are held of no account, are despised and oppressed. But it does
appear to me that the woman among these Indians holds her true natural
position relatively to the state of the man and the state of society;
and this cannot be said of all societies.

Take into consideration, in the first place, that in these Indian
communities the task of providing subsistence falls solely and entirely
on the men. When it is said, in general terms, that the men do nothing
but _hunt_ all day, while the women are engaged in perpetual _toil_, I
suppose this suggests to civilised readers the idea of a party of
gentlemen at Melton, or a turn-out of Mr. Meynell's hounds; or at most a
deer-stalking excursion to the Highlands--a holiday affair; while the
women, poor souls! must sit at home and sew, and spin, and cook
victuals. But what is really the life of an Indian hunter?--one of
incessant, almost killing toil, and often danger.[50] A hunter goes out
at dawn, knowing that, if he returns empty, his wife and his little ones
must _starve_--no uncommon predicament! He comes home at sunset, spent
with fatigue, and unable even to speak. His wife takes off his
moccasins, places before him what food she has, or, if latterly the
chase has failed, probably no food at all, or only a little parched wild
rice. She then examines his hunting-pouch, and in it finds the claws,
or beak, or tongue of the game, or other indications by which she knows
what it is, and where to find it. She then goes for it, and drags it
home. When he is refreshed, the hunter caresses his wife and children,
relates the events of his chase, smokes his pipe, and goes to sleep--to
begin the same life on the following day.

Where, then, the whole duty and labour of providing the means of
subsistence, ennobled by danger and courage, fall upon the man, the
woman naturally sinks in importance, and is a dependent drudge. But she
is not therefore, I suppose, so _very_ miserable, nor, relatively, so
very abject; she is sure of protection; sure of maintenance, at least
while the man has it; sure of kind treatment; sure that she will never
have her children taken from her but by death; sees none better off than
herself, and has no conception of a superior destiny; and it is evident
that in such a state the appointed and necessary share of the woman is
the household work, and all other domestic labour. As to the necessity
of carrying burthens, when moving the camp from place to place, and
felling and carrying wood, this is the most dreadful part of her lot;
and however accustomed from youth to the axe, the paddle, and the
carrying-belt, it brings on internal injuries and severe suffering--and
yet it _must_ be done. For a man to carry burthens would absolutely
incapacitate him for a hunter, and consequently from procuring
sufficient meat for his family. Hence, perhaps, the contempt with which
they regard it. And an Indian woman is unhappy, and her pride is hurt,
if her husband should be seen with a load on his back; this was strongly
expressed by one among them who said it was "unmanly;" and that "she
could not bear to see it!"

Hence, however hard the lot of the woman, she is in no _false_ position.
The two sexes are in their natural and true position relatively to the
state of society, and the means of subsistence.

The first step from the hunting to the agricultural state is the first
step in the emancipation of the female. I know there are some writers
who lament that the introduction of agriculture has not benefited the
Indian women, but rather added to their toils, as a great proportion of
the hoeing and planting has devolved on them; but among the Ottawas,
where this is the case, the women are decidedly in a better state than
among the hunting Chippewas; they can sell or dispose of the produce
raised by themselves, if there be more than is necessary for the family,
and they take some share in the bargains and business of the tribe: and
add, that among all these tribes, in the division of the money payments
for the ceded land, every woman receives her individual share.

Lewis and Clarke, in exploring the Missouri, came upon a tribe of
Indians who, from local circumstances, kill little game, and live
principally on fish and roots; and as the women are equally expert with
the men in procuring subsistence, they have a rank and influence very
rarely found among Indians. The females are permitted to speak freely
before the men, to whom indeed they sometimes address themselves in a
tone of authority. On many subjects their judgment and opinion are
respected, and in matters of trade their advice is generally asked and
pursued; the labours of the family too are shared equally.[51] This
seems to be a case in point.

Then, when we speak of the _drudgery_ of the women, we must note the
equal division of labour; there is no class of women privileged to sit
still while others work. Every squaw makes the clothing, mats,
moccasins, and boils the kettle for her own family. Compare her life
with the refined leisure of an elegant woman in the higher classes of
our society, and it is wretched and abject; but compare her life with
that of a servant-maid of all work, or a factory-girl,--I do say that
the condition of the squaw is gracious in comparison, dignified by
domestic feelings, and by equality with all around her. If women are to
be exempted from toil in reverence to the sex, and as _women_, I can
understand this, though I think it unreasonable; but if it be merely a
privilege of station, and confined to a certain set, while the great
primeval penalty is doubled on the rest, then I do not see where is the
great gallantry and consistency of this our Christendom, nor what right
we have to look down upon the barbarism of the Indian savages who make
_drudges_ of their women.

I will just mention here the extreme delicacy and personal modesty of
the women of these tribes, which may seem strange when we see them
brought up and living in crowded wigwams, where a whole family is herded
within a space of a few yards: but the lower classes of the Irish,
brought up in their cabins, are remarkable for the same feminine
characteristic: it is as if true modesty were from within, and could
hardly be outwardly defiled.

But to return. Another boast over the Indian savages in this respect is,
that we set a much higher value on the chastity of women. We are told
(with horror) that among some of the north-west tribes the man offers
his wife or sister, nothing loth, to his guest, as a part of the duty of
hospitality; and this is, in truth, _barbarism_!--the heartless
brutality on one side, and the shameless indifference on the other, may
well make a woman's heart shrink within her. But what right have
civilised _men_ to exclaim, and look sublime and self-complacent about
the matter? If they do not exactly imitate this fashion of the Indians,
their exceeding and jealous reverence for the virtue of women is really
indulged at a very cheap rate to themselves. If the chastity of women be
a virtue, and respectable in the eyes of the community for its own sake,
well and good; if it be a mere matter of expediency, and valuable only
as it affects property, guarded by men just as far as it concerns their
honour--as far as regards ours, a jest,--if this be the masculine creed
of right and wrong--the fiat promulgated by our lords and masters, then
I should reply that there is no woman, worthy the name, whose cheek does
not burn in shame and indignation at the thought.

With regard to female right of property, there is no such thing as real
property among them, except the hunting-grounds or territory which are
the possession of the tribe. The personal property, as the clothing,
mats, cooking and hunting apparatus, all the interior of the wigwam, in
short, seems to be under the control of the woman; and on the death of
her husband the woman remains in possession of the lodge, and all it
contains, except the medal, flag, or other insignia of dignity, which go
to his son or male relatives. The corn she raises, and the maple sugar
she makes, she can always dispose of as she thinks fit--they are _hers_.

[Footnote 50: I had once a description of an encounter between my
illustrious grandpapa Waub-Ojeeg and an enormous elk, in which he had to
contend with the infuriated animal, for his very life, for a space of
three hours, and the snows were stained with his blood and that of his
adversary for a hundred yards round. At last, while dodging the elk
round and round a tree, he contrived to tear off the thong from his
moccasin, and with it, to fasten his knife to the end of a stick, and
with this he literally hacked at the creature till it fell from loss of

[Footnote 51: Travels up the Missouri.]


It seems to me a question whether the Europeans, who, Heaven knows, have
much to answer for in their intercourse with these people, have not, in
some degree, injured the cause of the Indian women:--first, by
corrupting them; secondly, by checking the improvement of all their own
peculiar manufactures. They prepared deer-skins with extraordinary
skill; I have seen dresses of the mountain sheep and young buffalo
skins, richly embroidered and almost equal in beauty and softness to a
Cashmere shawl; and I could mention other things. It is reasonable to
presume that as these manufactures must have been progressively
improved, there might have been farther progression, had we not
substituted for articles they could themselves procure or fabricate,
those which we fabricate; we have taken the work out of their hands, and
all motive to work, while we have created wants which they cannot
supply. We have clothed them in blankets--we have not taught them to
weave blankets. We have substituted guns for the bows and arrows--but
they cannot make guns: for the natural progress of arts and civilisation
springing from within, and from their own intelligence and resources, we
have substituted a sort of civilisation from without, foreign to their
habits, manners, organisation: we are making paupers of them; and this
by a kind of terrible necessity. Some very economical members of our
British parliament have remonstrated against the system of Indian
presents, as too _expensive_; one would almost suppose, to hear their
arguments, that pounds, shillings, and pence were the stuff of which
life is made--the three primal elements of all human existence--all
human morals. Surely they can know nothing of the real state of things
here. If the issue of the presents from our government were now to
cease, I cannot think without horror of what must ensue: trifling as
they are, they are an Indian's existence; without the rifle he must die
of hunger; without his blanket, perish of cold. Before he is reduced to
this, we should have nightly plunder and massacre all along our
frontiers and back settlements; a horrid brutalising contest like that
carried on in Florida, in which the White man would be demoralised, and
the Red man exterminated.

The sole article of traffic with the Indians, their furs, is bartered
for the necessaries of life; and these furs can _only_ be procured by
the men. Thus their only trade, so far from tending to the general
civilisation of the people, keeps up the wild hunting habits, and tells
fearfully against the power and utility of the women, if it be not
altogether fatal to any amelioration of their condition. Yet it should
seem that we are ourselves just emerging from a similar state, only in
another form. Until of late years there was no occupation for women by
which a subsistence could be gained, except servitude in some shape or
other. The change which has taken place in this respect is one of the
most striking and interesting signs of the times in which we live.


I must stop here: but may we not assume, as a general principle, that
the true importance and real dignity of woman is every where, in savage
and civilised communities, regulated by her capacity of being useful;
or, in other words, that her condition is decided by the share she takes
in providing for her own subsistence and the well being of society as a
productive labourer? Where she is idle and useless by privilege of sex,
a divinity and an idol, a victim or a toy, is not her position quite as
lamentable, as false, as injurious to herself and all social progress,
as where she is the drudge, slave, and possession of the man?

       *     *     *     *     *


  The ways through which my weary steps I guide,
  In this delightful land of faëry,
  Are so exceeding spacious and wide,
  And sprinkled with such sweet variety
  Of all that pleasant is to ear or eye,
  That I nigh ravish'd with rare thought's delight,
  My tedious travel doe forget thereby,
  And when I gin to feel decay of might,
  It strength to me supplies, and clears my dulled spright.


On the 6th of August I bade adieu to my good friends Mr. and Mrs.
MacMurray. I had owed too much to their kindness to part from them
without regret. They returned up the lake, with their beautiful child
and Indian retinue, to St. Mary's, while I prepared to embark in a canoe
with the superintendent, to go down the lake to Penetanguishene, a
voyage of four days at least, supposing wind and weather to continue
favourable. Thence to Toronto, across Lake Simcoe, was a journey of
three days more. Always I have found efficient protection when I most
needed and least expected it; and nothing could exceed the politeness of
Mr. Jarvis and his people;--it _began_ with politeness,--but it ended
with something more and better,--real and zealous kindness.


Now to take things in order, and that you may accompany us in our canoe
voyage, I must describe in the first place our arrangements. You shall
confess ere long that the Roman emperor, who proclaimed a reward for the
discovery of a new pleasure, ought to have made a voyage down Lake Huron
in a birch-bark canoe.

There were two canoes, each five-and-twenty feet in length, and four
feet in width, tapering to the two extremities, and light, elegant, and
buoyant as the sea-mew, when it skims the summer waves: in the first
canoe were Mr. Jarvis and myself; the governor's son, a lively boy of
fourteen or fifteen, old Solomon the interpreter, and seven voyageurs.
My blankets and night-gear being rolled up in a bundle, served for a
seat, and I had a pillow at my back; and thus I reclined in the bottom
of the canoe, as in a litter, very much at my ease: my companions were
almost equally comfortable. I had near me my cloak, umbrella, and
parasol, note-books and sketch-books, and a little compact basket always
by my side, containing eau de Cologne, and all those necessary luxuries
which might be wanted in a moment, for I was well resolved that I would
occasion no trouble but what was inevitable. The voyageurs were disposed
on low wooden seats, suspended to the ribs of the canoe, except our
Indian steersman, Martin, who, in a cotton shirt, arms bared to the
shoulder, loose trowsers, a scarlet sash round his waist, richly
embroidered with beads, and his long black hair waving, took his place
in the stern, with a paddle twice as long as the others.[52]

The manner in which he stood, turning and twisting himself with the
lithe agility of a snake, and striking first on one side then on the
other, was very graceful and picturesque. So much depends on the skill,
and dexterity, and intelligence of these steersmen, that they have
always double pay. The other men were all picked men, Canadian
half-breeds, young, well-looking, full of glee and good-nature, with
untiring arms and more untiring lungs and spirits; a handkerchief
twisted round the head, a shirt and pair of trowsers, with a gay sash,
formed the prevalent costume. We had on board a canteen, and other light
baggage, two or three guns, and fishing tackle.

The other canoe carried part of Mr. Jarvis's retinue, the heavy baggage,
provisions, marquees, guns, &c., and was equipped with eight paddles.
The party consisted altogether of twenty-two persons, twenty-one men,
and myself, the only woman.

We started off in swift and gallant style, looking grand and official,
with the British flag floating at our stern. Major Anderson and his
people, and the schooner's crew, gave us three cheers. The Indians
uttered their wild cries, and discharged their rifles all along the
shore. As we left the bay, I counted seventy-two canoes before us,
already on their homeward voyage--some to the upper waters of the
lake--some to the northern shores; as we passed them, they saluted us
by discharging their rifles: the day was without a cloud, and it was
altogether a most animated and beautiful scene.

I forgot to tell you that the Indians are very fond of having pet
animals in their wigwams, not only dogs, but tame foxes and hawks. Mr.
Jarvis purchased a pair of young hawks, male and female, from an Indian,
intending them for his children. Just as we left the island, one of
these birds escaped from the basket, and flew directly to the shore of
the bay, where it was lost in the thick forest. We proceeded, and after
leaving the bay about twelve miles onwards, we landed on a little rocky
island: some one heard the cry of a hawk over our heads; it was the poor
bird we had lost; he had kept his companion in sight all the way,
following us unseen along the shore, and now suffered himself to be
taken and caged with the other.

[Footnote 52: The common paddle (called by the Canadians _aviron_, and
by the Indians _abwee_) is about two feet and a half long.]


We bought some black-bass from an Indian who was spearing fish: and, _à
propos_, I never yet have mentioned what is one of the greatest
pleasures in the navigation of these magnificent upper lakes--the
purity, the coldness, the transparency of the water. I have been told
that if in the deeper parts of the lake a white handkerchief be sunk
with the lead it is distinctly visible at a depth of thirty fathoms--we
did not try the experiment, not being in deep water; but here, among
shoals and islands, I could almost always see the rocky bottom, with
glittering pebbles, and the fish gliding beneath us with their waving
fins and staring eyes--and if I took a glass of water, it came up
sparkling as from the well at Harrowgate, and the flavour was delicious.
You can hardly imagine how much this added to the charm and animation of
the voyage.

About sunset, we came to the hut of a fur trader, whose name, I think,
was Lemorondière; it was on the shore of a beautiful channel running
between the mainland and a large island. On a neighbouring point,
Wai-sow-win-de-bay (the Yellow-head) and his people were building their
wigwams for the night. The appearance was most picturesque, particularly
when the camp fires were lighted and the night came on. I cannot forget
the figure of a squaw, as she stood, dark and tall, against the red
flames, bending over a great black kettle, her blanket trailing behind
her, her hair streaming on the night breeze;--most like to one of the
witches in Macbeth.

We supped here on excellent trout and white-fish, but the sand-flies and
mosquitoes were horridly tormenting; the former, which are so diminutive
as to be scarcely visible, were by far the worst. We were off next
morning by daylight, the Yellow-head's people cracking their rifles by
way of salute.

The voyageurs measure the distance by _pipes_. At the end of a certain
time there is a pause, and they light their pipes and smoke for about
five minutes, then the paddles go off merrily again, at the rate of
about fifty strokes in a minute, and we absolutely seem to fly over the
water. "Trois pipes" are about twelve miles. We breakfasted this morning
on a little island of exceeding beauty, rising precipitately from the
water. In front we had the open lake, lying blue, and bright, and
serene, under the morning sky, and the eastern extremity of the
Manitoolin Island; and islands all around as far as we could see. The
feeling of remoteness, of the profound solitude, added to the sentiment
of beauty: it was nature in her first freshness and innocence, as she
came from the hand of her Maker, and before she had been sighed upon by
humanity--defiled at once, and sanctified by the contact. Our little
island abounded with beautiful shrubs, flowers, green mosses, and
scarlet lichens. I found a tiny recess, where I made my bath and
toilette very comfortably. On returning, I found breakfast laid on a
piece of rock; my seat, with my pillow and cloak all nicely arranged,
and a bouquet of flowers lying on it. This was a never-failing
_galanterie_, sometimes from one, sometimes from another of my numerous


This day we had a most delightful run among hundreds of islands;
sometimes darting through narrow rocky channels, so narrow that I could
not see the water on either side of the canoe; and then emerging, we
glided through vast fields of white water-lilies; it was perpetual
variety, perpetual beauty, perpetual delight and enchantment, from hour
to hour. The men sang their gay French songs, the other canoe joining
in the chorus.

This peculiar singing has often been described; it is very animated on
the water and in the open air, but not very harmonious. They all sing in
unison, raising their voices and marking the time with their paddles.
One always led, but in these there was a diversity of taste and skill.
If I wished to hear "En roulant ma boule, roulette," I applied to Le
Duc. Jacques excelled in "La belle rose blanche," and Lewis was great in
"Trois canards s'en vont baignant."

They often amused me by a specimen of dexterity, something like that of
an accomplished whip in London. They would paddle up towards the rocky
shore with such extreme velocity, that I expected to be dashed on the
rock, and then in a moment, by a simultaneous back-stroke of the paddle,
stop with a jerk, which made me breathless.

My only discomposure arose from the destructive propensities of the
gentlemen, all keen and eager sportsmen; the utmost I could gain from
their mercy was, that the fish should gasp to death out of my sight, and
the pigeons and the wild ducks be put out of pain instantly. I will,
however, acknowledge, that when the bass-fish and pigeons were produced,
broiled and fried, they looked so _appétissants_, smelt so savoury, and
I was _so_ hungry, that I soon forgot all my sentimental pity for the

We found to-day, on a rock, the remains of an Indian lodge, over which
we threw a sail-cloth, and dined luxuriously on our fish and pigeons,
and a glass of good madeira. After dinner, the men dashed off with great
animation, singing my favourite ditty,

  "Si mon moine voulait danser,
  Un beau cheval lui donnerai!"

through groups of lovely islands, sometimes scattered wide, and
sometimes clustered so close, that I often mistook twenty or thirty
together for one large island; but on approaching nearer, they opened
before us and appeared intersected by winding labyrinthine channels,
where, amid flags and water-lilies, beneath the shade of rich
embowering foliage, we glided on our way; and then we came upon a wide
open space, where we could feel the heave of the waters under us, and
across which the men--still singing with untiring vivacity--paddled with
all their might to reach the opposite islands before sunset. The moment
it becomes too dark for our steersman to see _through_ the surface of
the water, it becomes in the highest degree dangerous to proceed; such
is the frail texture of these canoes, that a pin's point might scratch a
hole in the bottom; a sunk rock, or a _snag_ or projecting bough--and
often we glided within an inch of them--had certainly swamped us.

We passed this day two Indian sepulchres, on a point of rock, with the
sparkling waters murmuring round it, and over-shadowed by birch and
pine. I landed to examine them. The Indians cannot here _bury_ their
dead, there not being a sufficiency of earth to cover them from sight,
but they lay the body, wrapped up carefully in bark, on the flat rock,
and then cover it over with rocks and stones. This was the tomb of a
woman and her child, and fragments of the ornaments and other things
buried with them were still perceptible.

We landed at sunset on a flat ledge of rock, free from bushes, which we
avoided as much as possible, from fear of mosquitoes and rattle-snakes;
and while the men pitched the marquees and cooked supper, I walked and

I wish I could give you the least idea of the beauty of this evening;
but while I try to put in words what was before me, the sense of its
ineffable loveliness overpowers me _now_ even as it did then. The sun
had set in that cloudless splendour, and that peculiar blending of rose
and amber light that belongs only to these climes and Italy; the lake
lay weltering under the western sky like a bath of molten gold; the
rocky islands which studded its surface were of a dense purple, except
where their edges seemed fringed with fire. They assumed, to the
visionary eye, strange forms; some were like great horned beetles, and
some like turtles, and some like crocodiles, and some like sleeping
whales, and winged fishes. The foliage upon them resembled dorsal fins,
and sometimes tufts of feathers: then, as the purple shadows came
darkening from the east, the young crescent moon showed herself,
flinging a paly splendour over the water. I remember standing on the
shore, "my spirits as in a dream were all bound up," and overcome by
such an intense feeling of _the beautiful_, such a deep adoration for
the power that had created it, I must have suffocated if----

But why tell _you_ this?

They pitched my tent at a _respectful_ distance from the rest, and made
me a delicious elastic bed of some boughs, over which was spread a
bear-skin, and over that blankets: but the night was hot and feverish.
The voyageurs, after rowing since daylight, were dancing and singing on
the shore till near midnight.

Next morning we were off again at early dawn, paddled "trois pipes"
before breakfast, over an open space which they call a "traverse,"
caught eleven bass-fish, and shot two pigeons. The island on which we
breakfasted was in great part white marble; and in the clefts and
hollows grew quantities of gooseberries and raspberries, wild roses, the
crimson columbine, a large species of harebell, a sort of willow,
juniper, birch, and stunted pine, and such was the usual vegetation.

It is beautiful to see in these islands the whole process of preparatory
vegetation unfolded and exemplified before one's eyes, each successive
growth preparing a soil for that which is to follow.

There was first the naked rock washed by the spray, where the white
gulls were sitting: then you saw the rock covered with some moss or
lichens; then in the clefts and seams, some long grass, a few wild
flowers and strawberries; then a few juniper and rose bushes; then the
dwarf pine, hardly rising two or three feet, and lastly trees and shrubs
of large growth; and the nearer to the mainland, the richer of course
the vegetation, for the seeds are wafted thence by the winds, or carried
by the birds, and so dispersed from island to island.


We landed to-day on the "Island of Skulls," an ancient sepulchre of the
Hurons. Some skulls and bones were scattered about, with the rough
stones which had once been heaped over them. The spot was most wild and
desolate, rising from the water edge in successive ledges of rock to a
considerable height, with a few blasted gray pines here and there,
round which several pair of hawks were wheeling and uttering their
shrill cry. We all declared we would not dine on this ominous island,
and proceeded. We doubled a remarkable cape mentioned by Henry as the
_Pointe aux Grondines_. There is always a heavy swell here, and a
perpetual sound of breakers on the rocks, whence its name. Only a few
years ago a trader in his canoe, with sixteen people, were wrecked and
lost on this spot.

We also passed within some miles of the mouth of the Rivière des
Français, the most important of all the rivers which flow into Lake
Huron.[53] It forms the line of communication for the north-west traders
from Montreal; the common route is up the Ottawa River, across Lake
Nippissing, and down the River Français into Lake Huron, and by the
Sault-Sainte-Marie into Lake Superior. Pray have a map before you during
this voyage.

Leaving behind this cape and river, we came again upon lovely groups of
Elysian islands, channels winding among rocks and foliage, and more
fields of water-lilies. In passing through a beautiful channel, I had an
opportunity of seeing the manner in which an Indian communicates with
his friends when _en route_. A branch was so arranged as to project far
across the water and catch the eye: in a cleft at the extremity a piece
of birch bark was stuck with some hieroglyphic marks scratched with red
ochre, of which we could make nothing--one figure, I thought,
represented a fish.

To-day we caught eleven bass, shot four pigeons, also a large
water-snake--which last I thought a gratuitous piece of cruelty. We
dined upon a large and picturesque island--large in comparison with
those we usually selected, being perhaps two or three miles round; it
was very woody and wild, intersected by deep ravines, and rising in
bold, abrupt precipices. We dined luxuriously under a group of trees:
the heat was overpowering, and the mosquitoes very troublesome.

After dinner we pursued our course through an archipelago of islets,
rising out of the blue waves, and fringed with white water-lilies.
Little fairy Edens, of such endless variety in form and colour, and of
such wondrous and fantastic beauty, I know not how to describe them.

We landed on one, where there was a rock so exactly resembling the head
and part of a turtle, that I could have taken it for sculpture. The
Indians look upon it as sacred, and it is customary for all who pass to
leave an offering in money, tobacco, corn, &c., to the spirit. I duly
left mine, but I could see by the laughing eyes of Jacques and Louis,
that "the spirit" was not likely to be the better for my devotion.

Mr. Jarvis asked me to sing a French song for the voyageurs, and Louis
looked back with his bright arch face, as much as to say, "Pray do,"
when a shout was heard from the other canoe "A mink! A mink!"[54] and
all the paddles were now in animated motion. We dashed up among the
reeds, we chased the creature up and down, and at last to a hole under a
rock; the voyageurs beat the reeds with their paddles, the gentlemen
seized their guns; there were twenty-one men half frantic in pursuit of
a wretched little creature, whose death could serve no purpose. It
dived, but rose a few yards farther, and was seen making for the land: a
shot was fired, it sprang from the water; another, and it floated
dead;--thus we repaid the beauty, and enjoyment, and lavish loveliness
spread around us with pain and with destruction.

I recollect that as we passed a lovely bit of an island, all bordered
with flags and white lilies, we saw a beautiful wild-duck emerge from a
green covert, and lead into the lake a numerous brood of ducklings. It
was a sight to touch the heart with a tender pleasure, and I pleaded
hard, very hard, for mercy; but what thorough sportsman ever listened to
such a word? The deadly guns were already levelled, and even while I
spoke, the poor mother-bird was shot, and the little ones, which could
not fly, went fluttering and scudding away into the open lake, to
perish miserably.

But what was really very touching was to see the poor gulls: sometimes
we would startle a whole bevy of them as they were floating gracefully
on the waves, and they would rise soaring away beyond our reach; but the
voyageurs suspending their paddles, imitated exactly their own soft low
whistle; and then the wretched, foolish birds, just as if they had been
so many women, actually wheeled round in the air, and came flying back
to meet the "fiery wound."

The voyageurs eat these gulls, in spite of their fishy taste, with great

I wonder how it is that some of those gentry whom I used to see in
London, looking as though they would give an empire for a new pleasure
or a new sensation, do not come here? If epicures, they should come to
eat white-fish and beavers' tails; if sportsmen, here is a very paradise
for bear-hunting, deer-hunting, otter-hunting;--and wild-fowl in
thousands, and fish in shoals; and if they be contemplative lovers of
the picturesque, _blasés_ with Italy and elbowed out of Switzerland, let
them come here and find the true philosopher's stone--or rather the true
elixir of life--_novelty!_

[Footnote 53: This part of Lake Huron, and indeed all its upper shores,
are very incorrectly laid down in Wyld's map of Upper Canada.
Bouchette's large map, and also a beautiful small one published by
Blackwood in 1833, are much more accurate.]

[Footnote 54: A species of otter.]


At sunset we encamped on a rocky island of most fantastic form, like a
Z. They pitched my tent on a height, and close to the door was a
precipitous descent into a hollow, where they lighted vast fires, and
thus kept off the mosquitoes, which were in great force. I slept well,
but towards morning some creature crept into my tent and over my bed--a
snake, as I supposed; after this I slept no more.

We started at half-past four. Hitherto the weather had been glorious;
but this morning the sun rose among red and black clouds, fearfully
ominous. As we were turning a point under some lofty rocks, we heard the
crack of a rifle, and saw an Indian leaping along the rocks, and down
towards the shore. We rowed in, not knowing what it meant, and came upon
a night-camp of Indians, part of the tribe of Aisence (the Clam). They
had only hailed us to make some trifling inquiries; and I heard Louis,
sotto voce, send them _au diable_!--for now the weather lowered darker
and darker, and every moment was precious.

We breakfasted on an island almost covered with flowers, some gorgeous,
and strange, and unknown, and others sweet and familiar; plenty of the
wild pea, for instance, and wild-roses, of which I had many offerings. I
made my toilette in a recess among some rocks; but just as I was
emerging from my primitive dressing-room, I felt a few drops of rain,
and saw too clearly that our good fortune was at an end. We swallowed a
hasty breakfast, and had just time to arrange ourselves in the canoe
with all the available defences of cloaks and umbrellas, when the rain
came down heavily and hopelessly. But notwithstanding the rain and the
dark gray sky, the scenery was even more beautiful than ever. The
islands were larger, and assumed a richer appearance; the trees were of
more luxuriant growth, no longer the dwarfed pine, but lofty oak and
maple. These are called the Bear Islands, from the number of those
animals found upon them; old Solomon told me that an Indian whom he knew
had shot nine bears in the course of a single day. We found three bears'
heads stuck upon the boughs of a dead pine--probably as offerings to the
souls of the slaughtered animals, or to the "Great Spirit," both being

We dined on a wet rock, almost covered with that species of lichen which
the Indians call wa,ac, and the Canadians _tripe de roche_, because,
when boiled till soft, and then fried in grease, it makes a dish not
unpalatable--when one has nothing else.[55] The Clam and some of his
people landed and dined at the same time. After dinner the rain came on
worse and worse. Old Solomon asked me once or twice how I felt; and I
thought his anxiety for my health was caused by the rain; but no; he
told me that on the island where we had dined he had observed a great
quantity of a certain plant, which, if only touched, causes a dreadful
eruption and ulcer all over the body. I asked why he had not shown it to
me, and warned me against it? he replied, that such warning would only
have increased the danger, for when there is any knowledge or
apprehension of it existing in the mind, the very air blowing from it
sometimes infects the frame. Here I appealed to Mr. Jarvis, who replied,
"All I know is, that I once unconsciously touched a leaf of it, and
became one ulcer from head to foot; I could not stir for a

This was a dreadful day, for the rain came on more violently,
accompanied by a storm of wind. It was necessary to land early, and make
our fires for the night. The good-natured men were full of anxiety and
compassion for me, poor, lonely, shivering woman that I was in the midst
of them! The first thought with every one was to place me under shelter,
and my tent was pitched instantly with such zeal, and such activity,
that the sense of inconvenience and suffering was forgotten in the
thankful sense of kindness, and all things became endurable.

The tent was pitched on a height, so that the water ran off on all
sides: I contrived for myself a dry bed, and Mr. Jarvis brought me some
hot madeira. I rolled myself up in my German blanket, and fell into a
deep, sound sleep. The voyageurs, who apparently need nothing but their
own good spirits to feed and clothe them, lighted a great fire, turned
the canoes upside down, and, sheltered under them, were heard singing
and laughing during great part of this tempestuous night.

Next morning we were off by five o'clock. My beautiful lake looked
horribly sulky, and all the little islands were lost in a cold gray
vapour: we were now in the Georgian Bay. Through the misty atmosphere
loomed a distant shore of considerable height. Dupré told me that what I
saw was the Isle des Chrétiens, and that formerly there was a large
settlement of the Jesuits there, and that still there were to be seen
the remains of "une grande cathédrale." About nine o'clock we entered
the bay of Penetanguishene, so called from a high sand-bank at the
entrance, which is continually crumbling away. The expressive Indian
name signifies "Look! it is falling sand!"

[Footnote 55: It is often mentioned in the Travels of Back and

[Footnote 56: I do not know the botanical name of this plant, which
resembles a dwarf sumach: it was subsequently pointed out to me in the
woods by a Methodist preacher, who told me that his daughter, merely by
standing to windward of the plant while looking at it, suffered
dreadfully. It is said that formerly the Indians used it to poison their

       *     *     *     *     *


We spent the greater part of two days at Penetanguishene, which is truly
a most lovely spot. The bay runs up into the land like some of the
Scottish lochs, and the shores are bolder and higher than usual, and as
yet all clothed with the primeval forest. During the war there were
dockyards and a military and naval depôt here, maintained at an immense
expense to government; and it is likely, from its position, to rise into
a station of great importance; at present, the only remains of all the
warlike demonstrations of former times are a sloop sunk and rotting in
the bay, and a large stone-building at the entrance, called the "Fort,"
but merely serving as barracks for a few soldiers from the garrison at
Toronto. There are several pretty houses on the beautiful declivity,
rising on the north side of the bay, and the families settled here have
contrived to assemble round them many of the comforts and elegancies of
life. I have reason to remember with pleasure a Russian lady, the wife
of an English officer, who made my short sojourn here very agreeable.

There was an inn here, not the worst of Canadian inns; and the _wee_
closet called a bed-room, and the little bed with its white cotton
curtains appeared to me the _ne plus ultra_ of luxury. I recollect
walking in and out of the room ten times a day for the mere pleasure of
contemplating it, and anticipated with impatience the moment when I
should throw myself down into it, and sleep once more on a christian
bed. But nine nights passed in the open air, or on rocks, and on boards,
had spoiled me for the comforts of civilisation, and to sleep _on a bed_
was impossible; I was smothered, I was suffocated, and altogether
wretched and fevered;--I sighed for my rock on Lake Huron.


At Penetanguishene there is a hamlet, consisting of twenty or thirty
log-houses, where a small remnant of the poor commuted pensioners (in
all a hundred and twenty-six persons) now reside, receiving daily
rations of food, and some little clothing, just sufficient to sustain

From some particular circumstances the case of these commuted pensioners
was frequently brought under my observation while I was in Canada, and
excited my strongest interest and compassion. I shall give you a brief
sketch of this tragedy, for such it truly is; not by way of exciting
sympathy, which can now avail nothing, but because it is in many points
of view fraught with instruction.

The commuted pensioners were veteran soldiers, entitled to a small
yearly pension for wounds or length of service, and who accepted the
offer made to them by our government in 1832, to commute their pensions
for four years' purchase, and a grant of one hundred acres of land in

The _intention_ of the government seems to have been to send out
able-bodied men, who would thus cease, after a few years, to be a
burthen on the country. A part of the money due to them was to be
deducted for their voyage and expenses out; of the remaining sum a part
was to be paid in London, part at Quebec, and the rest when settled on
the land awarded to them. These _intentions_ sound well; unluckily they
were not properly acted upon. Some received the whole of the money due
to them in England, and drank themselves to death, or squandered it, and
then refused to leave the country. Some drank themselves to death, or
died of the cholera, at Quebec; and of those who came out, one half were
described to me[57] as presenting a list of all the miseries and
diseases incident to humanity--some with one arm, some with one leg,
bent with old age or rheumatism, lame, halt, and even, will it be
believed, blind![58] And such were the men to be set down in the midst
of the swamp and forest, there to live as they could. When some few,
who had been more provident, presented themselves to the commissary at
Toronto for payment of the rest of the money due to them, it was found
that the proper papers had not been forwarded; they were written for to
the Chelsea Board, which had to apply to the War-office, which had to
apply to the Treasury: the papers, after being bandied about from office
to office, from clerk to secretary, from secretary to clerk, were sent,
at length, after a lapse of eight or ten months, during which time the
poor men, worn out with suspense, had taken to begging, or to drinking,
in utter despondency; and when the order for their money _did_ at last
arrive, they had become useless, abandoned creatures.

Those who were located were sent far up into the bush (there being no
disposable government lands nearer), where there were no roads, no
markets for their produce if they _did_ raise it; and in this new
position, if their hearts did not sink, and their limbs fail at once,
their ignorance of farming, their improvidence and helplessness, arising
from the want of self-dependence, and the mechanical docility of
military service, were moral obstacles stronger than any physical ones.
The forest-trees they had to contend with were not more deeply rooted
than the adverse habits and prejudices and infirmities they had brought
with them.

According to the commissary, the number of those who commuted their
pensions was about twelve hundred. Of these it is calculated that eight
hundred reached Upper Canada; of these eight hundred, not more than four
hundred and fifty are now living; and of these, some are begging through
the townships, living on public charity: some are at Penetanguishene:
and the greater part of those located on their land, have received from
time to time rations of food, in order to avert "impending starvation."
To bring them up from Quebec during the dreadful cholera season in 1832,
was a heavy expense to the colony, and now they are likely to become a
permanent burthen upon the colonial funds, there being no military funds
to which they can be charged.

I make no reflection on the commuting the pensions of these poor men at
four instead of seven years' purchase: many of the men I saw did not
know what was meant by _commuting their pension:_ they thought they
merely gave up their pension for four years, and were then to receive it
again; they knew nothing of Canada--had never heard of it--had a vague
idea that a very fine offer was made, which it would be foolish to
refuse. They were like children--which, indeed, disbanded soldiers and
sailors usually are.

All that benevolence and prudence _could_ suggest, was done for them by
Sir John Colborne[59]: he aided them largely from his own purse--himself
a soldier and a brave one, as well as a good man--the wrongs and
miseries of these poor soldiers wrung his very heart. The strongest
remonstrances and solicitations to the heads of the government at home
were sent over in their behalf; but there came a change of ministry; the
thing once done, could not be undone--redress was nobody's business--the
mother country had got rid of a burthen, and it had fallen on Canada;
and so the matter ended;--that is, as far as it concerned the Treasury
and the War-office; but the tragedy has not yet ended _here_. Sir
Francis Head, who never can allude to the subject without emotion and
indignation, told me, that when he was at Penetanguishene last year, the
poor veterans attempted to get up a feeble cheer in his honour, but, in
doing so, the half of them fell down. "It was too much for me--too
much," added he, with the tears actually in his eyes. As for Sir John
Colborne, the least allusion to the subject seemed to give him a twinge
of pain.

From this sum of mischief and misery you may subtract a few instances
where the men have done better; one of these I had occasion to mention.
I have heard of two others, and there may be more, but the general case
is as I have stated it.

These were the men who fought our battles in Egypt, Spain, and France!
and here is a new page for Alfred de Vigny's "Servitude et Grandeur
Militaire!" But do you not think it includes another lesson? That this
amount of suffering, and injury, and injustice can be inflicted, from
the errors, ignorance, and remoteness of the home government, and that
the responsibility apparently rests nowhere--and that nowhere lies
redress--seems to me a very strange, a very lamentable state of things,
and what _ought_ not to be.

[Footnote 57: I have these particulars from the chief of the
commissariat in Upper Canada, and the emigrant agent.]

[Footnote 58: One of these men, stone-blind, was begging in the streets
of Toronto.]

[Footnote 59: Now Lord Seaton.]

       *     *     *     *     *


Our voyageurs had spent the day in various excesses, and next morning
were still half tipsy, lazy, and out of spirits, except Le Duc; he was
the only one I could persuade to sing, as we crossed Gloucester Bay from
Penetanguishene to Coldwater. This bay abounds in sturgeon, which are
caught and cured in large quantities by the neighbouring settlers; some
weigh ninety and one hundred pounds.

At Matchadash (which signifies "bad and swampy place") we had nearly
lost our way among the reeds.

There is a portage here of sixteen miles across the forest to the
Narrows, at the head of Lake Simcoe. The canoe and baggage were laid on
a cart, and drawn by oxen; the gentlemen walked, as I must also have
done, if a Methodist preacher of the neighbourhood had not kindly
brought his little waggon and driven me over the portage. We stopped
about half-way at his log-hut in the wilderness, where I found his wife,
a pretty, refined looking woman, and five or six lovely children, of all
ages and sizes. They entertained me with their best, and particularly
with delicious preserves, made of the wood-strawberries and raspberries,
boiled with the maple sugar.

The country here (after leaving the low swamps) is very rich, and the
settlers fast increasing. During the last winter the bears had the
audacity to carry off some heifers to the great consternation of the new
settlers, and the wolves did much mischief. I inquired about the Indian
settlements at Coldwater and the Narrows; but the accounts were not
encouraging. I had been told, as a proof of the advancement of the
Indians, that they had here saw-mills and grist-mills. I now learned
that they had a saw-mill and a grist-mill built for them, which they
never used themselves, but _let out_ to the white settlers at a certain
rate. The road through the forest was bordered in many places by wild
raspberry bushes, bearing fruit as fine, and large, and abundant as any
I have seen in our gardens.

In spite of the mosquitoes, my drive was very pleasant; for my companion
was good-natured, intelligent, and communicative, and gave me a most
interesting, but rather sad, account of his missionary adventures. The
road was, _as usual_, most detestable. We passed a lovely little lake
called Bass Lake, from the numbers of these fish found in it; and
arrived late at the inn at the Narrows. Though much fatigued, I was kept
awake nearly the whole night by the sounds of drunken revelry in the
room below. Many of the settlers in the neighbourhood are discharged
soldiers and half-pay officers, who have received grants of land; and,
removed from all social intercourse and all influence of opinion, many
have become reckless and habitual drunkards. The only salvation of a man
here is to have a wife and children; the poor wife must make up her mind
to lead a hard life; but the children are almost _sure_ to do well--that
is, if they have intelligent parents: it is the very land for the young,
and the enterprising. I used to hear parents regret that they could not
give what is called a _good_ education to their children: but where
there are affection and common sense, and a boundless nature round them,
and the means of health and subsistence, which (with common industry)
all can command here, it seems that education--_i. e._ the development
of all the faculties in a direction suited to the country in which they
are to exist--comes of course. I saw an example of this in the excellent
family at Erindale; but those persons are unfortunate and miserable, and
truly pitiable, who come here with habits previously formed, and unable
to adapt themselves to an entirely new existence--of such I saw too
many. My landlady gave me no agreeable picture of the prevalent habits
of the settlers round this place; the riot of which I complained was of
nightly occurrence.


Next day we went on a fishing and shooting excursion to Lake Cuchuching,
and to see the beautiful rapids of the river Severn, the outlet from
these lakes into Lake Huron. If I had not exhausted all my superlatives
of delight, I could be eloquent on the charms of this exquisite little
lake, and the wild beauty of the rapids. Of our _sport_, I only
recollect the massacre of a dozen snakes, which were holding a kind of
conversazione in the hollow of a rocky islet where we landed to dine.
The islands in Lake Cuchuching belong to the Indian chief, the
Yellow-head; and I understand that he and others of his tribe have
lately petitioned for _legal titles_ to their reserved lands. They
represent to their Father the governor that their prosperity is retarded
from the circumstance of their not having titles to their lands, like
their white brethren. They say, "Many of our young men, and some of our
chiefs, fear that the time will arrive when our white brethren will
possess themselves of our farms; whereas, if our Father the governor
would be pleased to grant us titles, we should work with more
confidence,"--and they _humbly_ entreat (these original lords of the
soil!) as a particular boon, that their "little bits of land" may be
secured to their children and posterity for ever.

Next morning we embarked on board the Peter Robinson steamer, and
proceeded down Lake Simcoe. This most beautiful piece of water is above
forty miles in length, and about twenty in breadth, and is in winter so
firmly frozen over, that it is crossed in sledges in every direction.
The shores are flat and fertile; and we passed a number of clearings,
some very extensive. On a point projecting into the lake, and surrounded
by cleared land, a village has been laid out, and some houses built. I
went into one of them to rest while they were taking in wood, and found
there the works of Shakspeare and Walter Scott, and a good guitar; but
the family were absent.


We reached the Holland Landing, at the southern extremity of the lake,
about three o'clock; and the rest of our way lay through the Home
District, and through some of the finest land and most prosperous
estates in Upper Canada. It was a perpetual succession, not of
clearings, such as I had seen of late, but of well-cultivated farms. The
vicinity of the capital, and an excellent road leading to it (called
Yonge Street), have raised the value of landed property here, and some
of the farmers are reputed rich men.

Mr. Jarvis gave me an account of an Irish emigrant, a labouring man, who
had entered his service some years ago as teamster (or carter); he was
then houseless and penniless. Seven years afterwards the same man was
the proprietor of a farm of two hundred acres of cleared and cropped
land, on which he could proudly set his foot, and say, "It is mine, and
my children's after me!"


At three o'clock in the morning, just as the moon was setting in Lake
Ontario, I arrived at the door of my own house in Toronto, having been
absent on this wild expedition just two months.



  Spottiswoodes and Shaw,

  =Transcriber's Notes:=
  original hyphenation, spelling and grammar have been preserved as in
    the original
  various pages, "Mac Murray" changed to "MacMurray"
  Page 10, "bnt" changed to "but"
  Page 23, "where the houses a" changed to "where the houses are"
  Page 32, "and our innocnece" changed to "and our innocence"
  Page 34, "Gesprache mit Goethe" changed to "Gespräche mit Goethe"
  Page 44, "ten years ago," changed to "ten years ago."
  Page 49, "Felix Mendelsohn" changed to "Felix Mendelssohn"
  Page 50, "terapin" changed to "terrapin"
  Page 58, "the last war," changed to "the last war"
  Page 65, "so many others;" changed to "so many others,"
  Page 72, "ix Nations." changed to "Six Nations."
  Page 84, "I proceeded" changed to "I proceeded."
  Page 98, "have yet seen" changed to "have yet seen."
  Page 99, "farther to night" changed to "farther to-night"
  Page 121, "n couple of oxen" changed to "a couple of oxen"
  Page 121, "keep of the mosquitoes" changed to "keep off the mosquitoes"
  Page 124, "The war of 1813" changed to "The war of 1812"
  Page 149, "Pottowattomies" changed to "Pottowottomies" [Ed. for
  Page 151, "Ottowas" changed to "Ottawas" [Ed. for consistency]
  Page 152, "Pottowattomies" changed to "Pottowottomies" [Ed. for
  Page 161, "music and sing ing" changed to "music and singing"
  Page 170, "June 20" changed to "July 20"
  Page 171, "On the oppsoite side" changed to "On the opposite side"
  Page 182, "had been instructed,," changed to "had been instructed,"
  Page 189, 'left him in peace.' changed to 'left him in peace."'
  Page 200, "brother!--'Never!" changed to "brother!"--'Never!"
  Page 201, "he left the wigwan" changed to "he left the wigwam"
  Page 203, "Wawatam" changed to "Wa,wa,tam"
  Page 234, "Ottagamis" changed to "Ottagamies" [Ed. for consistency]
  Page 236, "Manitooling" changed to "Manitoolin"
  Page 264, "wortle-berries" changed to "whortleberries"
  Page 273 footnote, "Penetanguishnie" changed to "Penetanguishine"
  Page 277, "Pottowottomi" changed to "Pottowottomie" [Ed. for
  Page 282, "Shinguacose" changed to "Shinguaconse" [Ed. for consistency]
  Page 296, "andfishing tackle" changed to "and fishing tackle"

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