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Excuse this rhapsody, into which I have been betrayed by a revival of early feelings. The Hudson is, in a manner, my first and last love; and after all my wanderings, and seeming infidelities, I return to it with a heart-felt preference over all the other rivers in the world. I seem to catch new life, as I bathe in its ample billows, and inhale the
breezes of its hills. It is true, the romance of youth is past, that once spread illusions over every scene. I can no longer picture an Arcadia in every green valley; nor a fairy land among the distant mountains ; nor a peerless beauty in every villa gleaming among the trees; but though the illusions of youth have faded from the landscape, the recollections of departed years and departed pleasures shed over it the mellow charm of evening sunshine.
Permit me then, Mr. Editor, through the medium of your work, to hold occasional discourse from my retreat, with the busy world I have abandoned. I have much to say about what I have seen, heard, felt, and thought, through the course of a varied and rambling life, and some lucubrations, that have long been encumbering my port-folio; together with divers reminiscences of the venerable historian of the New Netherlands, that may not be unacceptable to those who have taken an interest in his writings, and are desirous of any thing that may cast a light back upon our early history. Let your readers rest assured of one thing, that, though retired from the world, I am not disgusted with it; and that if, in my communings with it, I do not prove very wise, I trust I shall at least prove very good natured. Which is all at present, from
How gladly do we hail the jocund SPRING,
I sometimes think the milder gales of spring,
SKETCHES OF A TRIP TO L A KE SUPERIOR.
BY HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT.
•What is Niagara or Saratoga,' said I, compared to a peep at the most glorious lake in the world, and inhaling the pure air of Lake Superior, at this most delicious season? I have some inquiries to make in that quarter, of an official character, and I will take you along — children, and servants, and all. All the world goes to the Springs, and to the Falls, but it is the privilege of only a few to see the waters of Superior. My life on it, your health will be improved by the air and exercise ; and as for views of scenery, there are none equal to it in America.'
* The proposal is delightful! replied a female voice; the very thought is refreshing. I would rather visit that lake, with its Pictured Rocks, than any other part of the continent; but how are we all to get along comfortably, in the boat and on shore ?'
• Leave that to me,' was the response; ‘I will get a boat of the largest class, and order my tents and other travelling equipage to be aired and got ready. I have already made arrangements to secure a good crew of men. Tell Margaret to prepare the mess-basket, and Julia to pack yours and the children's things, and we will be off, without delay.
This brief dialogue was held at Mackinac, in the month of July, 1938, and furnishes the history of the origin of the present tour. Our domicil stood on the shores of the romantic bay, at the south end of that beautiful island; and we embarked on the crystal bosom of Lake Huron, on a calm day in that month, setting our faces toward the northeast. There is a traverse of ten miles from Mackinac, across the open lake, in which we have the deep blue waters beneath, and the broad blue sky above. This is often a dangerous pass to travellers, but presented no cause of alarm to us. We passed the first night at Point St. Vital, on the Huron coast, and next morning betimes, turned Point Détour, and ascended the straits of St. Mary's to the Falls, or Sault. Here we were received with open hands and smiling faces, and passed a day or two in some farther preparations for the trip. In the mean time, our boat was drawn by oxen from the foot of the rapids into the millrace; and when we sat out, from the head of this race, above the falls, we left behind us the last flag-staff, and the last village, on the skirts of the civilized world. Other tours have been made from this point, for purposes of scientific discovery, or other grave objects. The present had no such aims. Men, women, and children, had fixed their hearts on seeing sights, and the great object of anxiety was, who should first descry the finest views We did not expect to see the great mammoth himself, who leaped over the big lakes, as the Indians told Mr. Jefferson, but we were on the qui vive for something grand.
Our boat was one of the kind locally denominated a Mackinac boat, of light construction, about twenty-eight feet long, and nine broad, provided with sails, and seats, and an awning over the centre-part, and rowed by nine men. We were supplied with tents, travelling beds,
the necessary apparatus for cooking and encamping, fishing tackle, guns for shooting game, and so forth. Our boat displayed a fag, we had a good spy-glass and compass, not forgetting the last reviews, periodicals, (among which fluttered conspicuously the lilac covers of our favorite KNICKERBOCKER,) and papers, to while away the time along plain portions of the coast. At St. Mary, our party had been augmented by young Mr. Placidus 0
and by Achille C- -, acting as interpreter, together with a couple of Chippewa guides, which made our number, in the aggregate, sixteen souls.
Never was there finer weather, smoother water, lovelier skies, or more gorgeous sunsets, than we enjoyed; and if health and recreation were ever sought under favorable auspices, we may claim to have been among her favored votaries. For four weeks of the warmest and most delightful parts of July and August, our attention was constantly enchained by a succession of novel and picturesque scenes. To me, who had previously beheld them, the effect was one of unexhausted interest; but from those of our party who had never before lifted their eyes on this 'closed sea,' they drew forth constant exclamations of admiration. It is proposed to furnish sketches of this trip, from a few brief notes, and from vivid recollection.
We passed our first night above St. Mary's, on the Canada shore, and next morning rowed across the river, against a head wind, into Peessissowa, or Wagishkee's bay. We were conducted by the chief, Jawba Waddik, son of the noted Wabojeeg, who rendered his name so conspicuous in this quarter, during the latter part of the last century, as the leader of the Odjibwas, against the Sioux and Foxes. Jawba Waddik, more familiarly known under the name of Waishkee, is an Odjibwa, about fifty-eight years of age, a trifle under six feet in height, sinewy and spare, grave countenance, and modest deportment. This chief is a native of the western shores of Lake Superior,
a and after his father's death, came and settled at St. Mary's, where he married the sister of the ruling chief, the late Skingaba Wossin. By this marriage, he has had fourteen children, eight of whom are living. In his fiftieth year, he embraced christianity, and united with the Methodist church, since which, his wife and five children have followed his example in this respect. It might be deemed a naked notice of the fact, could we not add the testimony of those who know him, that he is a man of pious, consistent, and temperate habits, in all things, and lives to adorn the profession he has made. Several of his sons are expert hunters; and although he is now in his decline, he has managed to bring up his large family in comfort, and thus shown to his tribe the perfect practicability of an Indian’s being a Christian, and yet pursuing the chase in the appropriate parts of the season. He showed us the fields he had cultivated for several years, on the west side of this bay. The ground appeared to be of a rich quality, and had been formerly covered with rock maple. He had raised, at this location, potatoes, corn, and various garden vegetables. He also pointed out the site of a former village of the Odjibwas, now wholly abandoned, covered with sand, and overgrown with weeds and coarse grass.
In crossing the bay, the men had an amusing chase after a brood
a of young ducks, which, at this season, have not received their wingfeathers, and cannot rise from the water. Their wings, however, serve as a kind of paddle, and enable them to move swiftly through, or rather upon, the water. The moment they descried them, the chase began. Nothing more quickly puts the northern boatmen to their mettle. They strained every nerve at the oar, shouting and rowing with all their might. As they gained on the brood, the mother affected lameness of a wing, and flapped awkardly on the water, to decoy us, and give the young a chance to scatter. All would not do, however. She was obliged to take to flight, and leave the brood to their fate, but in so doing, she was brought down by a shot. Most of the young were also shot, some few were taken alive, and two or three escaped. Those taken alive were afterward, when the excitement was over, set free.
One of the greatest impediments in travelling in this quarter, is headwind. A shipmaster can tack about his vessel, and run askance. A steam-boat can put on more steam, and advance. But a boat or canoe traveller, along the shores of the great lakes, must put ashore, and wait for auspicious breezes. To one who has urgent business to push him forward, this is often a trial of patience, especially, as not unfrequently happens, if the insect race give him no peace nor rest in his encampment. A man can more easily prepare to resist or avoid a monster, than a musquito, for the object is too diminutive for effective action. The usual mode of getting along, in this respect, is to keep them off by gauze nets, both for the hat, or travelling cap, by day, and the bed at night. To adjust the latter, is a 'prime operation,' and requires a good deal of tact. The enemy will penetrate the slightest rent or crevice; and when one lies down, after the most careful adjustment, it is in so direct a horizontal posture, that it is not easy to avoid the idea of being “ laid out.' Musquitoes,' you reply, 'in the latitude of 46°, on the wide breezy lakes! I should as soon think of protection against a crocodile! But whatever books or travellers may say, or omit to say, on this point, take my word for it, the object is one of perpetual annoyance, and requires no small share of the every-day foresight and the every-day endurance of a northern journey. On this account, old voyagers generally select sandy points, well denuded of trees, and stretching far into the water, for their encampments.
Toward sunset, the wind fell, and we resumed our way. We were now within a league or so of the grand entrance into the lake, and very soon came in full view of it. This scene has been generally admired. It has all the elements of grandeur. Water, mountains, and sky, exist in such relations and proportions to each other, as to fill the mind with ennobling thoughts, and lift its contemplations from the thing created, to the great Creator! A man may read all the elementary books that treat of the sublime and beautiful in nature, but it is only the actual view of magnitude and expanse in scenery, as they here exist, which can excite the true idea, and the true emotion, of grandeur. The blue water-line of the lake spreads out with all the transparency of a molten looking-glass ;' on the north, the bold primitive range of "Gros Cape' creates a noble idea of the
domain of waters, which require so elevated a barrier to confine them. On the south, stretches the promonitory of Cape Iroquois, but little less elevated, and covered with trees and green foliage to its very summit. Between them, the St. Mary's takes its exit for the distant Atlantic, which it reaches at last, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, after having been successively poured in and out of various lakes, driven through numerous straits, tossed over the Niagara, and undergone mutations of name and volume, which leave it scarce a semblance of its origin. These two capes stand, as it were, like the pillars of Hercules, to admit the voyager into another Mediterranean ; tideless, it is true, and without a Vesuvius or an Ætna; but not without extraordinary fluctuations of its level, which it has puzzled both the astronomer and the geologist to account for. Although there is no active volcano here, the sublime peaks of disrupted matter, within the precincts of the lake, may be adduced as the probable scenes of ancient volcanic action. No white footstep has yet stood on the Porcupine Mountains, or planted itself upon the Mamelles of Kewy
And there are a thousand lesser elevations upon its shores, from which no human eye, but the native chieftain's, has roved in gratified curiosity across these illimitable waters. We gazed on the expanse, with a wish to know the historical events of its by-gone ages. But all beyond a comparatively few years, is a blank. The Indian is himself the only monument its history presents. No pen has recorded the events of the centuries which have come and
gone, since the retreating waters of the deluge imprinted their latest action upon its rocky structure. It appears evident from the paucity of ancient signs of occupancy, that it was long numbered with the desolate and waste ground,' without a human inhabitant, and was probably among the latter portions of the continent occupied. The Algics, if they were not the primitive explorers, were the Argonauts here. They appear to have come from the Atlantic coast, and to have been in the full possession of the hieroglyphic art, but were evidently destitute of the means of engraving on stone. They shrouded their dead in bark, and cut or painted their hieroglyphics on wood, which have crumbled into dust together. Who led them, or what motive impelled them, in their migration to this region, it is impossible to decide. They were probably invited to explore it, by a restless, roving disposition, and the desire of war and plunder; for we find these their leading motives of action, at the time, and there is no reason to suppose that they are motives of modern origin. They not only delight in war, in common with the other tribes, but the whole structure of their society, and national character, is formed on the war principle. There is no other avenue to distinction. They have no other conceptions of glory. They learn its lessons in youth, they practice them in manhood, and recount them in old age ; and if there is any thing infamous in Indian opinion, it is the personal imputation of cowardice.
Lake Superior was discovered by the French. They came here in the days of Francis I., or probably a little later, and were as much discoverers of this part of America, as if neither of the Cabots nor *red Eric' had ever visited the northern Atlantic. Cortez, but a few years before, had signalized himself by adding Mexico to the Spanish crown. But the French were actuated by a different spirit. They