"The whole scenery is of the Highland character. The rocky shores, the pine trees running down to the edge of the lake, their dark foliage trembling over the glittering surface which reflected them, the surrounding hills, and the death-like silence. I was both delighted and disappointed—delighted with the richness of the scenery, but disappointed at the smallness of the harbour. Can this little loch, imprisoned within natural ramparts of rocks, buried in the solitude of a forest, be the place which I hoped would become so famous, the great destiny of which has been prognosticated by statesmen and publicists, and the possession of which is bitterly envied us by neighbouring nations; this the place where England is to centre a naval force hitherto unknown in the Pacific, whence her fleets are to issue for the protection of her increasing interests in the Western world; this the seaport of the Singapore of the Pacific; the modern Tyre into which the riches of the East are to flow and be distributed to the Western nations; the terminus of railway communication which is to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific?
"Victoria is distant from Esquimault, by land, about three miles round by sea, double the distance. The intervening ground is an irregular promontory, having the waters of the Straits of Fuca on the south, the Bay of Victoria on the east, and the Victoria arm encircling: it on the north. The promontory contains three farms, reclaimed from the forest of pines, oaks, alders, willows, and evergreens. The soil is good, and produces fair crops of the ordinary cereals, oats, barley, and wheat, and good grass, turnips, and potatoes.
"I came the first time to Victoria round by water. The rowing of our boat was much impeded by kelp. The shore is irregular; somewhat bold and rocky—two more facts which confirmed the resemblance of the scenery to that of the western coast of Scotland.
"The bay of Victoria runs in a zigzag shape—two long sharp promontories on the southward hiding the town from view until we get quite close up to it. A long low sand-spit juts out into it, which makes the entrance hazardous for large vessels at some little distance below the town, and higher up the anchorage is shallow. Twice at low tides I saw two or three ugly islands revealed, where ships would have to anchor. In short, Victoria is not a good harbour for a fleet. For small vessels and traders on the coast, it will answer well enough.
"Victoria stands nobly on a fine eminence, a beautiful plateau, on the rocky shore of the bay of the same name. Generations yet to come will pay grateful tribute to the sagacity and good taste of the man who selected it. There is no finer site for a city in the world. The plateau drains itself on every side by the natural depressions which intersect it, and there is space enough to build a Paris on. The views are also good. Across the straits you have the Olympian range washed by the sea; towards the interior, picturesque views of wooded hills; opposite, the fine woodland scenery of the country intervening between it and Esquimault, the Victoria arm, glimpses of which, as seen through the foliage, look like a series of inland lakes; while in front, just at one's feet, is the bay itself and its tributaries, or arms rather— James's Bay, etcetera, always beautiful; and behind, towards the south-east end of the island, is a view of great beauty and grandeur—a cluster of small islands, San Juan and others, water in different channels, straits and creeks, and two enormous mountains in the far distance, covered from base to summit with perpetual snow. These are Mounts Baker and Rainier, in Washington territory. Such are a few—and I am quite serious when I say only a few—of the beauties which surround Victoria.
"As to the prospects of Vancouver's Island as a colony, I would say that if it shall turn out that there is an extensive and rich gold-field on the mainland in British territory, as there is every reason to believe, the island will become a profitable field for all trades, industries, and labour. The population will soon increase from Canada, whence an immigration of many thousands is already spoken of, from Australia, South America, the Atlantic States,—and, no doubt, from Europe also. If this happens, the tradesman and the labourer will find employment, and the farmer will find a ready market, at good prices, for his produce.
"Should the gold suddenly disappear, the island will have benefited by the impulse just given to immigration, for, no doubt, many who came to mine will remain to cultivate the soil and to engage in other pursuits. If this be the termination of the present fever, then to the farmer who is satisfied with a competency—full garners and good larder, who loves retirement, is not ambitious of wealth, is fond of a mild, agreeable, and healthy climate, and a most lovely country to live in—the island offers every attraction. Its resources are, plenty of timber, towards the northern portion producing spars of unequalled quality, which are becoming of great value in England, and will soon be demanded in France, now that the forests of Norway and of Maine are becoming exhausted; limestone in abundance, which burns into good lime for building and for agricultural purposes; coal in plenty, now worked at Nanaimo, on the northern side of the island, by the Hudson's Bay Company—the quality is quite good, judging from the specimens I saw burning—it answers well for steam purposes, and would have found a ready sale in San Francisco were it not subject to a heavy duty (of 30 per cent, I think) under the American tariff; iron, copper, gold, and potter's clay. I have no doubt that a gold-field will be discovered on the island as it gets opened up to enterprising explorers. A friend of mine brought down some sand from the sea-beach near Victoria, and assayed it the other day. It produced gold in minute quantity, and I have heard of gold washings on the island. The copper is undeveloped. The potter's clay has been tested in England, and found to be very good.
"The character of the soil is favourable to agriculture. It is composed of a black vegetable mould of a foot to two feet in depth, overlaying a hard yellow clay. The surface earth is very fine, pulverised, and sandy, quite black, and, no doubt, of good quality; when sharpened with sheep-feeding it produces heavy crops. The fallen trees, which are very numerous, shew that the substratum of clay is too hard to produce anything. The roots of the pine never penetrate it. In some places the spontaneous vegetation testifies to the richness of the soil—such as wild pease or vetches, and wild clover, which I—have seen reach up to my horse's belly—and a most luxuriant growth of underwood, brambles, fern, etcetera.
"I visited seven farms within short distances of Victoria. The crops were oats, barley, wheat, pease, potatoes, turnips, garden herbs and vegetables, fruits, and flowers; no clover, the natural grass supplying sufficient food for the cattle and sheep. The crops were all healthy, but not heavy. The wheat was not thick on the ground, nor had it a large head. It was such a crop as would be an average only in a rich, well-cultivated district of England or Scotland; far lighter than you would see in the rich counties of England and in the Carse of Gowrie. I was informed that the ground was very badly prepared by Indian labour— merely scratched over the surface. I believe that with efficient labour and skilful treatment, the crops could be nearly doubled. The oats and barley were very good crops, and the potatoes looked quite healthy, and I doubt not will turn out the best crop of all. The peas were decidedly an abundant crop. Vegetables thrive well, and all the ordinary fruits, apples, currants, etcetera, are excessively abundant, some of the currant-bushes breaking down with the weight of their fruit. Flowers of the ordinary sorts do well, but delicate plants don't thrive, owing to the coldness of the nights.
"Sheep thrive admirably. I saw some very fine pure Southdowns. The rams were selling at 100 dollars each (20 pounds) to California sheep farmers. Other breeds—hybrids of Southdowns, merinos, and other stock—were also in good condition, and fair in size. Black cattle do well also. The breed is a mixture of English and American, which makes very good beef. The horses are little Indian breeds, and some crosses with American stock, all very clean limbed, sound, active, hardy, and full of endurance and high spirit, until they get into livery-stables.
"During my stay, the climate was charming; the weather perfection—warm during the day, but free of glare, and not oppressive; cool in the evenings, with generally a gentle sea breeze. The long days—the protracted daylight eking out the day to nine o'clock at night—the lingering sunset, and the ample 'gloaming,' all so different from what I had been accustomed to in more southern latitudes, again reminded me of Scotland in the summer season.
"So far as I wandered—about ten miles round Victoria—the landscape is totted with extensive croppings of rock, which interfere with the labours of the husbandman. Few corn-fields are without a lot of boulders, or a ridge or two of rocks rising up above the surface of the ground. Consequently the cultivated fields are small, and were sneered at by my Californian neighbours, who are accustomed to vast open prairies under crop. I have seen one field of 1000 acres all under wheat in California. But then no other country is so favoured as this is for all the interests of agriculture.
"The scenery of the inland country around Victoria is a mixture of English and Scotch. Where the pine (they are all 'Douglass' pines) prevails, you have the good soil broken into patches by the croppings of rock, producing ferns, rye-grass, and some thistles, but very few. This is the Scottish side of the picture. Then you come to the oak region; and here you have clumps, open glades, rows, single trees of umbrageous form, presenting an exact copy of English park scenery. There is no running water, unfortunately, but the meadows and little prairies that lie ensconced within the woods, shew no signs of suffering from lack of water. The nights bring heavy dews, and there are occasional rains, which keep them fresh and green. I am told that in September rains fall which renew the face of nature so suddenly, that it assumes the garb of spring, the flowers even coming out. The winter is a little cold, but never severe. I have heard it complained of as being rather wet and muggy. Frost and snow fall, but do not endure long.
"The climate is usually represented as resembling that of England. In some respects the parallel may hold good; but there is no question that Vancouver has more steady fine weather, is far less changeable, and is on the whole milder. Two marked differences I remarked—the heat was never sweltering, as is sometimes the case in England, and the wind never stings, as it too often does in the mother country. The climate is unquestionably superior in Vancouver."
To resume our description of the coast, the southern shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is described by Vancouver as being composed of sandy cliffs of moderate height, falling perpendicularly into the sea, from the top of which the land takes a further gentle ascent, where it is entirely covered with trees, chiefly of the pine tribe, until the forest reaches a range of high craggy mountains which seem to rise from, the woodland in a very abrupt manner, with a few scattered trees on their sterile sides, and their tops covered with snow. On the north the shore is not so high, the ascent more gradual from thence to the tops of the mountains, which are less covered with snow than those to the south. They have from the strait the appearance of a compact range. Proceeding up the strait about seventy miles, a long low sandy point attracted Vancouver's attention; from its resemblance to Dungeness, on the coast of Kent, he named it New Dungeness, and found within it good anchorage in from ten to three fathoms; beyond this the coast forms a deep bay about nine miles across; and three miles from its eastern point lies Protection Island, so named from the position it occupies at the entrance of Port Discovery. Vancouver landed on it on the 1st of May 1792, and thus describes its appearance:—"On landing on the west end, and ascending its eminence, which was a nearly perpendicular cliff, our attention was immediately called to a landscape almost as enchantingly beautiful as the most elegantly finished pleasure-grounds in Europe. The summit of this island presented nearly a horizontal surface, interspersed with some inequalities of ground, which produced a beautiful variety on an extensive lawn covered with luxuriant grass and diversified with abundance of flowers. To the north-westward was a coppice of pine trees, and shrubs of various sorts, that seemed as if it had been planted for the purpose of protecting from the north-west winds this delightful meadow, over which were promiscuously scattered a few clumps of trees that would have puzzled the most ingenious designer of pleasure-grounds to have arranged more agreeably. While we stopped to contemplate these several beauties of nature in a prospect no less pleasing than unexpected, we gathered some gooseberries and roses in a state of considerable forwardness."
From this island, lying at the entrance of Port Discovery, commences the maritime importance of the territory, with, says Vancouver, as fine a harbour as any in the world, though subsequently he awards the palm to its neighbour Port Hudson. Its shores and scenery have been thus described by Vancouver:—
"The delightful serenity of the weather greatly aided the beautiful scenery that was now presented; the surface of the sea was perfectly smooth, and the country before us presented all that bounteous nature could be expected to draw into one point of view. As we had no reason to imagine that this country had ever been indebted for any of its decorations to the hand of man, I could not possibly believe that any uncultivated country had ever been discovered exhibiting so rich a picture. The land which interrupted the horizon below the north-west and north quarters seemed to be much broken, from whence its eastern extent round to south-east was bounded by a ridge of snowy mountains, appearing to lie nearly in a north and south direction, on which Mount Baker rose conspicuously, remarkable for its height and the snowy mountains that stretch from its base to the north and south. Between us and this snowy range, the land, which on the sea-shore terminated like that we had lately passed in low perpendicular cliffs, or on beaches of sand or stone, rose here in a very gentle ascent, and was well covered with a variety of stately forest trees; these, however, did not conceal the whole face of the country in one uninterrupted wilderness, but pleasantly clothed its eminences and chequered the valleys, presenting in many directions extensive spaces that wore the appearance of having been cleared by art, like the beautiful island we had visited the day before. A picture so pleasing could not fail to call to our remembrance certain delightful and beloved situations in Old England." Both the approaches to this port, round the extremities of Protection Island, are perfectly free from obstruction, and about a league in breadth.
Separated from Port Discovery only by a narrow slip of land from a mile and a-half to two miles broad, which trending to the east protects it from the north and west, is Port Hudson, having its entrance at the extremity of the point on the east side, but little more than one mile broad; from which the harbour extends, in a semicircular form, for about four miles westward, and then trending for about six more, affords excellent shelter and anchorage for vessels in from ten to twenty fathoms, with an even bottom of mud.
In latitude 48 degrees 16 minutes the waters of the strait are divided by a high white sandy cliff, with verdant lawns on each side; this was named by Vancouver Point Partridge. It forms the western extremity of an island, long, low, verdant, and well-wooded, lying close to the coast, and having its south end at the mouth of a river rising in those mountains which here form a barrier to the further progress of the sea. The snow-covered peak of the most lofty of these is visible soon after entering the strait. Vancouver named it Mount Baker, from the officer of his ship by whom it was first seen. This mountain, with Mount Olympus, and another further to the south, named by the same navigator Mount Rainier, form nearly an equilateral triangle, and tower over the rest, the giant wardens of the land. From Point Partridge he southern branch extends about fifteen miles below the island before mentioned; this Vancouver named Admiralty Inlet. Here the tides begin to be sufficiently rapid to afford obstruction to navigation; and hence it parts in two arms, one named Hood's Canal, taking a south-west course, and the other continuing a south course for forty miles, and then also bending to the west, terminates in a broad sound studded with islands, called by him Puget's Sound.
On the east coast of Admiralty Inlet, there is a broad sound with very deep water and rapid tides, but affording good anchorage in the mouth of the river. Here Vancouver landed and took formal possession of the country on Monday, the 4th of June, (with the usual solemnities, and under a royal salute from the ships), in the name of his Britannic Majesty King George the Third, and for his heirs and successors—that day being His Majesty's birthday—from latitude 39 degrees 20 minutes to the entrance of this inlet, supposed to be the Strait of Juan de Fuca, as well the northern as the southern shores, together with those situated in the interior sea, extending from the said strait in various directions between the north-west, north-east, and south quarters. This interior sea he named the Gulf of Georgia, and the continent bounding the said gulf, and extending southward to the 45th degree of north latitude, New Georgia, in honour of His Majesty George the Third. The sound he named, from this incident, Possession Sound. Of the country round the sound he thus writes:—"Our eastern view was now bounded by the range of snowy mountains from Mount Baker, bearing by compass north, to Mount Rainier, bearing north 54 degrees east. This mountain was hid by the more elevated parts of the low land; and the intermediate snowy mountains, in various rugged and grotesque shapes, were seen just to rear their heads above the lofty pine trees, which appeared to compose an uninterrupted forest between us and the snowy range, presenting a most pleasing landscape; nor was our west view destitute of similar diversification. The ridge of mountains on which Mount Olympus is situated, whose rugged summits were seen no less fancifully towering over the forest than those of the east side, bounded to a considerable extent our western horizon; on these, however, not one conspicuous eminence arose, nor could we now distinguish that which on the sea-coast appeared to be centrally situated, forming an elegant biforked mountain. From the south extremity of these ridges of mountains there seemed to be an extensive tract of land, moderately elevated and beautifully diversified by pleasing inequalities of surface, enriched with every appearance of fertility."
The narrow channel from Possession Sound, at the back of the long island lying at its mouth, which Vancouver named Whidbey's Island, affords some small but convenient harbours; its northern entrance is so choked with rocks as to be scarcely practicable for vessels; but its southern is wide, and the navigation unimpeded.
The northern arm of the straits commences in an archipelago of small islands, well wooded and fertile, but generally without water; in one of them, however, Vancouver found good anchorage, though exposed to the south, having wood, water, and every necessary; this he named Strawberry Cove, from that fruit having been found there in great abundance, and the island, from the trees which covered it, Cypress Island. About this part the continental shore is high and rocky, though covered with wood; and, it may be remarked generally, that the northern shore of the gulf becomes more rocky and sterile, shewing gradually a less and less variety of trees, until those of the pine tribe alone are found.
Above the archipelago the straits widen, swelling out to the east in a double bay, affording good anchorage, beyond which the shores become low and sandy, and a wide bank of sand extends along them about one or two miles, closely approaching the opposite side of the gulf, leaving a narrow but clear channel. This bank, affording large sturgeon, was named by Vancouver after that fish; and keeping to the south around it, he did not observe that here the gulf receives the waters of Fraser River from the north. Here the gulf is open, and the navigation unimpeded, except by a few islands on the north shore; one of them, named by the Spaniards de Feveda, deserves notice; it is parallel with the shore, narrow, and about thirty miles long.
Among the natural features of this part of the north shore of the gulf, must not be omitted, on account of their singularity, the small salt-water lakes, which are found divided from the sea only by a narrow ledge of rock, having a depth over it of four feet at high-water. They are consequently replenished by the sea every tide, and form salt-water cascades during the ebb and rise of of the tides; some of them, divided into several branches, run through a low swampy woodland country. Here also are streams of water, so warm as to be unpleasant to the hand; and every feature of this district evidences the violent effort of nature in its production. Except the coast and canals, nothing is known of it; but its mineral riches are scarcely problematical. The channels between the several islands which here obstruct the gulf are narrow, deep, and much impeded by the strength of the tide, which is sufficient in some places to stop the progress of a steam-vessel, as has been frequently experienced by the Hudson's Bay Company's steam-boat Beaver; yet Vancouver found no difficulty in working his vessels through Johnstone's Strait, the passage between these islands and the southern shore, against a head-wind; being compelled, as he says, to perform a complete traverse from shore to shore through its whole length, and without meeting the least obstruction, from rocks or shoals. He adds, "the great depth of water, not only here, but that which is generally found washing the shores of this very broken and divided country, must ever be considered a peculiar circumstance, and a great inconvenience to its navigation; we, however, found a sufficient number of stopping-places to answer all our purposes, and in general without going far out of our way." From this, archipelago, extending about sixty miles, the strait widens into a broad expanse, which swells to the north in a deep sound, filled with islands, called Broughton's Archipelago. This part was named by Vancouver Queen Charlotte's Sound; and is here fifteen miles broad, exclusive of the archipelago, but it contracts immediately to less than ten, and sixty miles from Johnstone Straits joins the Pacific, its northern boundary. Cape Caution, being in latitude 51 degrees 10 minutes. The entrance to the sound is choked with rocks and shoals.
Here, between Broughton's Archipelago and Cape Caution, another mountain, called Mount Stephen, conspicuous from its irregular form and great elevation, and worthy to be named with those to the south, seems to mount guard over the northern entrance to the straits.
From Cape Caution, off which are several groups of rocks to latitude 54 degrees 40 minutes, where the Russian territory commences, the coast has much the same character as that already described between the Gulf of Georgia and the sea, but that its harsher features are occasionally much softened, and its navigation less impeded. Throughout its whole length it is cut up by long and deep canals, which form various archipelagos of islands, and penetrate deeply and circuitously into the land, which is high, but not so precipitous as about Desolation Sound, and generally covered with trees.
The islands lying close to the shore follow its sinuosities, and through the narrow channels thus formed the currents are rapid; those more detached are more fertile; they are all the resort of the natives during the fishing season. Their formation is granite, the prevailing rock north of latitude 49 degrees. Distant thirty miles at its nearest and ninety at its furthest point from the line of islands which cover this coast, and under parallels 52 degrees and 54 degrees, lies Queen Charlotte's Island, called by the Americans Washington. It is in form triangular, about 150 miles long, and above sixty at its greatest breadth, and contains upwards of 4000 square miles. Possessed of an excellent harbour on its east coast, in latitude 53 degrees 3 minutes, and another on the north, at Hancock's River (the Port Entrada of the Spaniards), it is a favourite resort of traders. The climate and soil are excellent, hills lofty and well wooded, and its coast, especially on the west side, deeply indented by arms of the sea, among which may be named Englefield Bay and Cartwright's Sound. Coal and some metals are said to have been found on this island.
On the whole the character of this coast seems to be well expressed by Lieutenant Wilkes, when he says—"Nothing can exceed the beauty of these waters, and their safety; not a shoal exists within the straits of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, Puget's Sound, or Hood's Canal that can in any way interrupt their navigation by a 74 gun ship. I venture nothing in saying there is no country in the world that possesses waters equal to these."
Mr Nicolay, in his treatise on the Oregon Territory, gives a minute and graphic account of the aboriginal inhabitants of this district, from which we purpose making some extracts to enrich our pages.
The principal Indian tribes, commencing from the south, are the Callapuyas, Shaste, Klamet, Umqua, Rogues' River, and Chinooks, between the Californian boundary and Columbia, to the west of the Cascade Mountains; the Shoshones or Snake and Nezperces tribes about the southern branch of the Columbia, and Cascade Indians on the river of that name; between the Columbia and the Strait of Fuca, the Tatouche or Classet tribe; and the Clalams about Port Discovery; the Sachet about Possession Sound; the Walla-walla, Flat-head, Flat-bow Indians, and Cour d'Aleine or Pointed Heart, about the rivers of the same names; the Chunnapuns and Chanwappans between the Cascade range and the north branch of the Columbia; the Kootanie to the east, between it and the Rocky Mountains; and to the north about Okanagan, various branches of the Carrier tribe. Of those on the coast to the north and on Vancouver Island not much is known.
Their numbers may be stated at a rough estimate as—
+========================================+====+ On the coast below the Columbia 2,500 + + + About the Cascades 1,500 + + + On the Snake River and its tributary 2,500 + + + Between the Columbia and Strait of De Fuca 3,000 + + + About Fort Vancouver 1,500 + + + Walla-walla 1,500 + + + Flat-head, etcetera 1,200 + + + Okanagan 750 + + + Northward 2,500 + + + Vancouver's and Queen Charlotte's Island 5,000 + + + Possession Sound 650 + + + Fraser River 500 + + + On the coast of the Gulf of Georgia 500 + + + Total 23,500 +========================================+====+
This is, however, 6000 less than was reported to the Congress of the United States, and 4000 more than Mr Wilkes' calculation.
That there are errors in this there can be no doubt; and it is probable that some smaller tribes may be omitted in the above calculation; the number, therefore, between parallels 42 degrees and 54 degrees 40 minutes may be roughly estimated at 30,000.
Through the care of the Hudson's Bay Company and the semi-civilised habits they have adopted, the number of Indians to the north of the Columbia is not on the decrease; to the south it is; and the total must be very considerably less than it was before the settlement was made among them.
The Indian nations in Oregon may be divided into three classes, differing in habits and character according to their locality and means of sustenance—the Indians of the coast, the mountains, and the plains. The first feed mostly on fish, and weave cloth for clothing from the wool or hair of the native sheep, having to a great extent settled residences, though these last characteristics are rapidly disappearing; the second, trappers and hunters, wandering for the most part in pursuit of game; and the third, the equestrian tribes, who, on the great plains about the waters of the rivers, chase on their fleet horses the gigantic bison, whose flesh supplies them with food, and whose hide covers them. The former bear some resemblance to the native inhabitants of the islands of the Pacific. The two latter are in every respect Red men. Those on the coast were first known, and when visited by the early voyagers had the characteristics which, from contiguity to White men, have deteriorated in the south, but which have been retained in the north—high courage, determination, and great ingenuity, but joined to cruelty and faithlessness; and as in the south Destruction Island obtained its name from their savage cruelty, so does the coast throughout its length afford the same testimony. Cook, who first discovered them, says, "They were thieves in the strictest sense of the word, for they pilfered nothing from us but what they knew could be converted to the purposes of utility, and had a real value according to their estimation of things."
Their form is thick and clumsy, but they are not deficient in strength or activity; when young, their colour is not dark nor their features hard, but exposure to the weather, want of mental culture, and their dirty habits, soon reduce them all to the same dark complexion and dull phlegmatic want of expression which is strongly marked in all of them.
In Cook's time, and till the White men settled among them, their dress was a flaxen mantle, ornamented with fur above, and tassels and fringes, which, passing under the left arm, is tied over the right shoulder, leaving the right side open: this is fastened round the waist by a girdle: above this, which reaches below the knee, a circular cape, perforated in the centre to admit the head, made of the same substance, and also fringed in the lower part, is worn: it covers the arms to the elbows. Their head is covered with a cap, conical but truncated, made of fine matting, ornamented at the top with a knot or tassels. Besides the above dress, common to both sexes, the men frequently throw over their garments the skin of a bear, wolf, or sea-otter, with the fur outwards: they wear the hair loose, unless tied up in the scalping-lock: they cover themselves with paint, and swarm with vermin; upon the paint they strew mica to make it glitter. They perforate the nose and ears, and put various ornaments into them.
But besides these common habits, they have official and ceremonious occasions, on which they wear beautiful furs and theatrical dresses and disguises, including large masks; and their war-dress, formed of a thick doubled leathern mantle of elk or buffalo skin, frequently with a cloak over it, on which the hoofs of horses were strung, makes an almost impervious cuirass. Their love for music, general lively dispositions, except from provocation, but determination in avenging insult or wrong, is testified by all.
Cook also gives a full description of their houses and manner of life. Of the former, he says they are made of split boards, and large enough for several families, who occupy small pens on each side of the interior. They have benches and boxes, and many of their utensils, such as pipes, etcetera, are frequently carved; as are also gigantic human faces on large trunks of trees, which they set up for posts to their dwellings.
In their persons and houses they were filthy in the extreme; in their habits lazy; but the women were modest and industrious. Their principal food was fish, but they had edible roots and game from the land. A favourite article of food was also the roe of herrings, dried on pine branches or sea-weed. Their weapons were spears, arrows, slings, and clubs, similar to the New Zealanders; also an axe, not dissimilar to the North American tomahawk, the handle of which is usually carved.
They made garments of pine-bark beaten fine; these were made by hand with plaited thread and woollen, so closely wove as to resemble cloth, and frequently had worked on them figures of men and animals: on one was the whole process of the whale fishery. Their aptitude for the imitative arts was very great. Their canoes were rather elegantly formed out of trees, with rising prow, frequently carved in figures. They differ from those of the Pacific generally, in having neither sails nor outriggers; they had harpoons and spears for whale-fishing. Vancouver, when at Port Discovery, saw some long poles placed upright on the beach at equal distances, the object of which he could not discover, and it was not till the last voyage of discovery, despatched from the United States under Commodore Wilkes, that they were ascertained to have been used for hanging nets upon, to catch wild-fowl by night: their ingenuity in this and in netting salmon is very remarkable. They have two nets, the drawing and casting net, made of a silky grass found on the banks of the Columbia, or the fibres of the roots of trees, or of the inner bark of the white cedar. The salmon-fishing on the Columbia commences in June, the main body, according to the habit of this fish, dividing at the mouth of the tributary streams to ascend then to their sources. At the rapids and falls the work of destruction commences; with a bag-net, not unlike to an European fisherman's landing-net, on a pole thirty feet long, the Indians take their stand on the rocks, or on platforms erected for the purpose, and throwing their nets into the river above their standing-places, let them float down the rapids to meet the fish as they ascend. By this means many are caught; they have also stake-nets and lines with stones for leads; they also catch many with hook and line, and sometimes, now they have fire-arms, shoot them. Their mode of fishing for sturgeon is also peculiar. The line, made of twisted fibres of the roots of trees, is attached to a large wooden hook and let down over the side of a canoe; those used for this purpose are small, having only one or two men at most in them: having hooked a fish, they haul him gently up till he floats on the water, then, with a heavy mallet, with one blow on the head they kill him; with singular dexterity they contrive to jerk a fish of three hundred pounds over the lowered side of the canoe by a single effort. They catch whales also by means of harpoons with bladders attached. The oil is sold to the Hudson's Bay Company. It has been said that their houses were made of boards, but some constructive art is displayed in their erection as was much ingenuity in procuring the materials before axes were introduced among them; for they contrived to fell trees with a rough chisel and mallet. The houses are made of centre-posts about eighteen feet high, upon which a long pole rests, forming the ridge of the roof, from whence rafters descend to another like it, but not more than five feet from the ground; to these again, cross poles are attached, and against these are placed boards upright, and the lower end fixed in the ground; across these again, poles are placed, and tied with cords of cedar bark to those inside of the roof, which are similarly disposed: the planks are double. These houses are divided on each side into stalls and pens, occupied as sleeping places during the night, and the rafters serve to suspend the fish, which are dried by the smoke in its lengthened course through the interstices of the roof and walls. In their superstitions, theatricals, dances, and songs they have much similarity to the natives of Polynesia. Debased now, and degraded even beneath their former portrait—fast fading away before the more genial sun of the fortunes of the White man—the Indians on the southern coast are no longer free and warlike, and being in subjection to the Hudson's Bay Company, English manufactures are substituted for the efforts of their native industry.
The mode of burial practised among the tribes on the coast is very peculiar. The corpse is placed sometimes in a canoe raised a few feet from the ground, with arms and other necessaries beside it. These are not unfrequently spoiled beforehand, to prevent their being stolen, as if they thought they might, like their owner, be restored to their former state in the new world. Sometimes they are put in upright boxes like sentry-boxes—sometimes in small enclosures—but usually kept neat, and those of the chiefs frequently painted. Mount Coffin, at the mouth of the Cowelitz, seems to have been appropriated to the burial of persons of importance; it is about seven hundred feet high, and quite isolated: on it were to be seen the canoe-coffins of the natives in every stage of decay; they were hung between the trees about five feet from the ground. This cemetery of the Columbia is, however, destroyed, for the American sailors under Wilkes, neglecting to put out their cooking-fire, it spread over the whole mountain, and continued to rage through the night, till all was burnt. A few small presents appeased the Indians, who but a few years before could only have drowned the remembrance of such a national disgrace in the blood of those who caused it.
Among the tribes about the lower part of the Columbia the singular custom of flattening the head still prevails, though not to the extent it did formerly; Mr Dunn thus describes the operation:—
"Immediately after the birth, the infant is laid in an oblong wooden trough, by way of cradle, with moss under the head; the end on which the head reposes is raised higher than the rest; a padding is then placed on the infant's forehead, with a piece of cedar-bark over it; it is pressed down by cords, which pass through holes on each side of the trough. As the tightening of the padding and pressure of the head is gradual, the process is said not to be attended with much pain. The appearance of the infant, however, while under it, is shocking,—its little black eyes seem ready to start from their sockets; the mouth exhibits all the appearance of internal convulsion; and it clearly appears that the face is undergoing a process of unnatural configuration. About a year's pressure is sufficient to produce the desired effect; the head is ever after completely flattened;" and as slaves are always left to nature, this deformity is consequently a mark of free birth. The Indians on the north coast possess the characteristics of the southern, but harsher and more boldly defined—they are of fiercer and more treacherous dispositions. Indeed, those of the south have a disposition to merriment and light-hearted good humour. Their mechanical ingenuity is more remarkably displayed in the carving on their pipes, and especially in working iron and steel. The Indians of the coast are doubtless all from the same stock, modified by circumstances and locality. Those, however, to the south of the Columbia, about the waters of the rivers Klamet and Umqua, partake largely of the characteristics of the Indians of the plains, their country having prairies, and themselves possessing horses: they are remarkable for nothing but their determined hostility towards the Whites. Idleness and filth are inveterate among all three, but among the Indians of the plains there is a marked difference; there, their food consist of fish, indeed, and dried for winter, but not entirely, being more varied by venison than on the coast, and in the winter by roots, which they dig up and lay by in store. They live more in moveable tents, and to the south their great wealth is their horses. They are not, like the coast Indians, of small stature and inelegantly made, but remarkable for comeliness of person and elegance of carriage. They are equestrian in their habits, and shew to great advantage on horseback. The principal tribes are the Shoshones and Walla-walla, between whom, as between the former and the Blackfeet, there has been continual war. The Shoshones dwell between the Rocky and Blue Mountain ranges, the Walla-walla about the river of that fame; the Blackfeet at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, principally, but not entirely, on the eastern side. Warlike and independent, the Blackfeet had for a long time the advantage, having been earlier introduced to the use of fire-arms; but by the instrumentality of the Hudson's Bay Company, they have been of late years more on an equality: they are friendly to the Whites, but the Blackfeet, their mortal enemies, and their hill-forts overhanging the passes of the Rocky Mountains, make the future safety of the journey to the United States depend on the temper of this fickle and bloodthirsty nation, who have been well termed the Arabs of the West, for truly their hand is against every man, and every man's hand against them; and though seriously lessened in number by war and disease, they still dwell in the presence of all their brethren. The Shoshones feed frequently on horse-flesh, and have also large quantities of edible roots, which stand them in great stead during the winter. When the men are fishing for salmon, the women are employed in digging and preserving the roots. There is, indeed, one tribe inhabiting the country of the salt lakes and springs to the south of the head-waters of the Snake or Saptin River, who have no wish, beyond these roots, living in the most bestial manner possible: these, from their single occupation, have been named Diggers. Above the Walla-walla, also, there is a tribe called the Basket people, from their using a basket in fishing for salmon. The apparatus consists of a large wicker basket, supported by long poles inserted into it, and fixed in the rocks; to the basket is joined a long frame, spreading above, against which the fish, in attempting to leap the falls, strike and fall into the basket; it is taken up three times a day, and at each haul not unfrequently contains three hundred fine fish. The Flat-heads, dwelling about the river of that name, are the most northern of the equestrian tribes: their characteristics are intelligence and aptitude for civilisation; yet, in the early history of the country, their fierceness and barbarity in war could not be exceeded, especially in their retaliation on the Blackfeet, of which Ross Cox gives a horrible account. The usual dress of these tribes is a shirt, leggings, and mocassins of deer-skin, frequently much ornamented with fringes of beads, and formerly in the "braves" with scalps; a cap of handkerchief generally covers the head, but the Shoshones twist their long black hair into a natural helmet, more useful as a protection than many artificial defences: in winter a buffalo robe is added to the usual clothing. Horses abound among them, and they are usually well armed. Through the influence of the Hudson's Bay Company, these tribes are beaming amalgamated by intermarriage, and will, doubtless, from their pliability of disposition, readiness of perception, and capability for improvement generally, no less than their friendship for the Whites and devotion to the Company, gradually lose their identity in acquired habits and knowledge, and become the peaceful proprietors of a country rich in flocks and herds, even very much cattle. The more northern Indians inhabiting the mountainous country round the head-waters of Oregon River and the branches of the Columbia, evidence an origin similar to the Chippewayan tribes on the east of the Rocky Mountains. Mackenzie found but little difference, when travelling from one to the other, and his guides were generally well understood: like them, they have exchanged their shirts and robes of skins for European manufactures, and their bows and spears for fire-arms. Among them the greater part of the furs exported by the Hudson's Bay Company are procured, and the return of the traffic supplies all their wants: they differ, however, in manners and habits; for among them is found the tribe of Carriers, whose filthiness and bestiality cannot be exceeded; whose dainties are of putrid flesh, and are eaten up with disease; nevertheless, they are a tall, well-formed, good-looking race, and not wanting in ingenuity. Their houses are well formed of logs of small trees; buttressed up internally, frequently above seventy feet long and fifteen high, but, unlike those of the coast, the roof is of bark: their winter habitations are smaller, and often covered over with grass and earth: some even dwell in excavations of the ground, which have only an aperture at the top, and serves alike for door and chimney. Salmon, deer, bears, and wild-fowl are their principal food: of the latter they procure large quantities.
Their mode of taking salmon is curious. They build a weir across the stream, having an opening only in one place, at which they fix a basket, three feet in diameter, with the mouth made something like an eel-trap, through which alone the fish can find a passage. On the side of this basket is a hole, to which is attached a smaller basket, into which the fish pass from the large one, and cannot return or escape. This, when filled, is taken up without disturbing the larger one.
Of the religion and superstitions of the Indians little need be said; the features of polytheism being everywhere as similar as its effects. Impudent conjurers are their priests and teachers, and exerted once unlimited sway; but under the satisfactory proofs of the value of scientific medical practice and the tuition of the missionaries, it is to be hoped both their claims to respect will be negatived; and as they have evinced great aptitude to embrace and profit by instruction, it may perhaps happen that secular knowledge may combine with religious to save them from the apparent necessary result.
In closing this brief account of the gold-fields of New Caledonia, we cannot avoid adverting to the great event which, has been, we may say, contemporaneous with these discoveries—the laying down of the Atlantic telegraph. The sources of an apparently boundless and dazzling wealth have been opened up in the Far West of America, and a mighty stream of thought has begun its perpetual flow backwards and forwards between her eastern shores and England. We hail the coincidence as an assurance that friendly communication, and peace, and good-will, shall go hand and hand with the getting of gold in, and the civilising of, these far off regions; and we believe that God will use both these new and mighty engines for the advancement of the blessed gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the British possessions of North America.
CORRESPONDENCE RELATIVE TO THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD IN THE FRASER RIVER DISTRICT, IN BRITISH NORTH AMERICA.
Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty, July 2, 1858.
Governor Douglas to the Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, M.P.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, April 16, 1856.
Sir,—I hasten to communicate, for the information of Her Majesty's Government, a discovery of much importance, made known to me by Mr Angus McDonald, clerk in charge of Fort Colville, one of the Hudson's Bay Company's trading posts on the Upper Columbia District.
That gentleman reports, in a letter dated on the 1st of March last, that gold has been found in considerable quantities within the British territory, on the Upper Columbia, and that he is, moreover, of opinion, that valuable deposits of gold will be found in many other parts of that country; he also states that the daily earnings of person's then employed in digging gold were ranging from 2 pounds to 8 pounds for each man. Such is the substance of his report on that subject, and I have requested him to continue his communications in respect to any further discoveries made.
I do not know if Her Majesty's Government will consider it expedient to raise a revenue in that quarter, by taxing all persons engaged in gold digging; but I may remark, that it will be impossible to levy such a tax without the aid of a military force, and the expense in that case would probably exceed the income derived from the mines.
I will not fail to keep you well informed in respect to the extent and value of the gold discoveries made; and circumstances will probably be the best indication of the course which it may be expedient to take, that is, in respect to imposing a tax, or leaving the field free and open to any persons who may choose to dig for gold.
Several interesting experiments in gold-washing have been lately made in this colony, with a degree of success that will no doubt lead to further attempts for the discovery of the precious metal. The quantity of gold found is sufficient to prove the existence of the metal, and the parties engaged in, the enterprise entertain sanguine hopes of discovering rich and productive beds. I have, etcetera, (Signed) James Douglas, Governor.
The Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
The Right Hon. Henry Labouchere to Governor Douglas.
Downing Street, August 4, 1856.
Sir,—I have to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch, Number 10, of the 16th April last, reporting the discovery of gold within the British territory of the Upper Columbia River district.
In the absence of all effective machinery of Government, I perceive that it would be quite abortive to attempt to raise a revenue from licences to dig for gold in that region. Indeed, as Her Majesty's Government do not at present look for a revenue from this distant quarter of the British dominions, so neither are they prepared to incur any, expense on account of it. I must, therefore, leave it to your discretion to determine the best means of preserving order in the event of any considerable increase of population flocking into this new gold district; and I shall rely on your furnishing me with full and regular accounts of any event of interest or importance which may occur in consequence of this discovery. I have, etcetera, (Signed) H. Labouchere.
To Governor Douglas, etcetera, etcetera.
Governor Douglas to the Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, M.P.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, October 29, 1856.
Sir,—1. I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch, Number 14, of the 4th of August, communicating the arrival of my despatch, Number 10, of the 16th April last, in which was reported the discovery of gold within the British territory in the Upper Columbia River district.
2. I have, since the date of that letter, received several other communications from my correspondent in that part of the country, who, however, scarcely makes any allusion to the gold discovery; but I have heard through other almost equally reliable sources of information, that the number of persons engaged in gold digging is yet extremely limited, in consequence of the threatening attitude of the native tribes, who, being hostile to the Americans, have uniformly opposed the entrance of American citizens into their country.
3. The people from American Oregon are, therefore, excluded from the gold district, except such, as resorting to the artifice of denying their country, succeed in passing for British subjects. The persons at present engaged in the search of gold are chiefly of British origin, and retired servants of the Hudson's Bay Company, who, being well acquainted with the natives, and connected by old acquaintanceship and the ties of friendship, are more disposed to aid and assist each other in their common pursuits than to commit injuries against persons or property.
4. They appear to pursue their toilsome occupation in peace, and without molestation from the natives, and there is no reason to suppose that any criminal act has been lately committed in that part of the country.
5. It is reported that gold is found in considerable quantities, and that several persons have accumulated large sums by their labour and traffic, but I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports; though, on the other hand, there is no reason to discredit them, as about 220 ounces of gold dust have been brought to Vancouver's Island direct from the Upper Columbia, a proof that the country is at least auriferous.
From the successful result of experiments made in washing gold from the sands of the tributary streams of Fraser River, there is reason to suppose that the gold region is extensive, and I entertain sanguine hopes that future researches will develop stores of wealth, perhaps equal to the gold fields of California. The geological formations observed in the "Sierra Nevada" of California being similar in character to the structure of the corresponding range of mountains in this latitude, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the resemblance will be found to include auriferous deposits.
6. I shall not fail to furnish you with full and regular accounts of every event of interest connected with the gold district, which may from time to time occur. I have, etcetera, (Signed) James Douglas, Governor.
The Right Hon. H. Labouchere; etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Governor Douglas to the Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, M.P.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, July 15, 1857.
Received, September 18, 1857.
Sir,—1. I have the honour of communicating for your information the substance of advices which I have lately received from the interior of the continent north of the 49th parallel of latitude, corroborating the former accounts from that quarter respecting the auriferous character of certain districts of the country on the right bank of the Columbia River, and of the extensive table land which divides it from Fraser River.
2. There is, however, as yet a degree of uncertainty respecting the productiveness of those gold fields, for reports vary so much on that point, some parties representing the deposits as exceedingly rich, while others are of opinion that they will not repay the labour and outlay of working, that I feel it would be premature for me to give a decided opinion on the subject.
3. It is, however, certain that gold has been found in many places by washing the soil of the river beds, and also of the mountainsides; but, on the other hand, the quantities hitherto collected are inconsiderable, and do not lend much support to the opinion entertained of the richness of these deposits; so that the question as to their ultimate value remains thus undetermined, and will probably not be decided until more extensive researches are made.
4. A new element of difficulty in exploring the gold country has been interposed through the opposition of the native Indian tribes of Thompson River, who have lately taken the high-handed, though probably not unwise course, of expelling all the parties of gold-diggers, composed chiefly of persons from the American territories, who had forced an entrance into their country. They have also openly expressed a determination to resist all attempts at working gold in any of the streams flowing into Thompson River, both from a desire to monopolise the precious metal for their own benefit, and from a well-founded impression that the shoals of salmon which annually ascend those rivers, and furnish the principal food of the inhabitants, will be driven off, and prevented from making their annual migrations from the sea.
5. The officers in command of the Hudson's Bay Company's posts in that quarter, have received orders carefully to respect the feelings of the natives in that matter, and not to employ any of the company's servants in washing out gold, without their full approbation and consent. There is, therefore, nothing to apprehend on the part of the Hudson's Bay Company's servants, but there is much reason to fear that serious affrays may take place between the natives and the motley adventurers who will be attracted by the reputed wealth of the country, from the United States' possessions in Oregon, and may probably attempt to overpower the opposition of the natives by force of arms, and thus endanger the peace of the country.
6. I beg to submit, if in that case, it: may not become a question whether the natives are not entitled to the protection of Her Majesty's Government, and if an officer invested with the requisite authority should not, without delay, be appointed for that purpose. I have, etcetera, (Signed) James Douglas, Governor.
The Right Hon. H. Labouchere, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Extract of a Despatch from Governor Douglas to the Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, M.P., dated Victoria, Vancouver's Island, December 29, 1857. (Received March 2, 1858.)
Since I had the honour of addressing you on the 15th July last, concerning the gold fields in the interior of the country north of the 49th parallel of latitude, which, for the sake of brevity, I will hereafter speak of as the "Couteau mines" (so named after the tribe of Indians who inhabit the country), I have received farther intelligence from my correspondents in that quarter.
It appears from their reports that the auriferous character of the country is becoming daily more extensively developed, through the exertions of the native Indian tribes, who, having tasted the sweets of gold finding, are devoting much of their time and attention to that pursuit.
They are, however, at present almost destitute of tools for moving the soil, and of washing implements for separating the gold from the earthy matrix, and have therefore to pick it out with their knives, or to use their fingers for that purpose; a circumstance which in some measure accounts for the small products of gold up to the present time, the export being only about 300 ounces since the 6th of last October.
The same circumstance will also serve to reconcile the opinion now generally entertained of the richness of the gold deposits by the few experienced miners who have seen the Couteau country, with the present paucity of production.
The reputed wealth of the Couteau mines is causing much excitement among the population of the United States territories of Washington and Oregon, and I have no doubt that a great number of people from those territories will be attracted thither with the return of the fine weather in spring.
In that case, difficulties between the natives and whites will be of frequent occurrence, and unless measures of prevention are taken, the country will soon become the scene of lawless misrule.
In my letter of the 15th of July, I took the liberty of suggesting the appointment of an officer invested with authority to protect the natives from violence, and generally, so far as possible, to maintain the peace of the country. Presuming that you will approve of that suggestion, I have, as a preparatory step towards the proposed measure for the preservation of peace and order, this day issued a proclamation declaring the rights of the Crown in respect to gold found in its natural place of deposit, within the limits of Fraser River and Thompson River districts, within which are situated the Couteau mines; and forbidding all persons to dig or disturb the soil in search of gold, until authorised on that behalf by Her Majesty's Government.
I herewith forward a copy of that proclamation, and also of the regulations since published, setting forth the terms on which licences will be issued to legalise the search for gold, on payment of a fee of ten shillings a-month, payable in advance.
When mining becomes a remunerative employment, and there is a proof of the extent and productiveness of the gold deposits, I would propose that the licence fee be gradually increased, in such a manner, however, as not to be higher than the persons engaged in mining can readily pay. My authority for issuing that proclamation, seeing that it refers to certain districts of continental America, which are not, strictly speaking, within the jurisdiction of this Government, may, perhaps, be called in question; but I trust that the motives which have influenced me on this occasion, and the fact of my being invested with the authority over the premises of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the only authority commissioned by Her Majesty within reach, will plead my excuse. Moreover, should Her Majesty's Government not deem, it advisable to enforce the rights of the Crown, as set forth in the proclamation, it may be allowed to fall to the ground, and to become a mere dead letter.
If you think it expedient that I should visit the Couteau Mines in course of the coming spring or summer, for the purpose of inquiring into the state of the country, and authorise me to do so, if I can for a time conveniently leave this colony, I freely place my services at the disposal of Her Majesty's Government.
The Governor of Vancouver's Island to the Right Hon. H. Labouchere, M.P.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, January 22, 1858.
[Received March 15, 1858.]
Sir,—1. With reference to the proclamation and regulations legalising the search for gold in the districts of Fraser River and Thompson River, transmitted with my despatch, Number 35, of the 29th of December last, I have now the honour to communicate for your information, that we have since that date raised the licence fee from ten shillings to twenty-one shillings a-month, payable in advance, which is the present charge for gold licences.
2. We are induced to make that change through a desire to place a large amount of revenue at the disposal of Government to meet the expense of giving protection to life and property in those countries, and at the same time from a well-founded conviction that persons really bent upon visiting the gold district will as readily pay the increased as the lower rate of charge.
I have, etcetera, (Signed) James Douglas, Governor.
To the Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Governor Douglas to the Right Hon. H. Labouchere, M.P.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, April 6, 1858.
Sir,—1. Since I had last the honour of addressing you in my despatch, Number 35, on the 29th of December last, in reference to the discovery of gold in the Couteau, or Thompson River district, we have had much communication with persons who have since visited that part of the country.
2. The search for gold and "prospecting" of the country, had, up to the last dates from the interior, been carried on almost exclusively by the native Indian population, who have discovered the productive beds, and put out almost all the gold, about eight hundred ounces, which has been hitherto exported from the country, and who are, moreover, extremely jealous of the whites, and strongly opposed to their digging the soil for gold.
3. The few white men who passed the winter at the diggings—chiefly retired servants of the Hudson's Bay Company—though well acquainted with Indian character, were obstructed by the natives in their attempts to search for gold. They were on all occasions narrowly watched, and in every instance, when they did succeed in removing the surface and excavating to the depth of the auriferous stratum, they were quietly hustled and crowded by the natives, who having by that means obtained possession of the spot, then proceeded to reap the fruits of their labours.
4. Such conduct was unwarrantable and exceedingly trying to the temper of spirited men, but the savages were far too numerous for resistance, and they had to submit to their dictation. It is, however, worthy of remark, and a circumstance highly honourable to the character of those savages, that they have on all occasions scrupulously respected the persons and property of their white visitors, at the same that they have expressed a determination to reserve the gold for their own benefit.
5. Such being the purpose of the natives, affrays and collisions with the whites will surely follow the accession of numbers, which the latter are now receiving by the influx of adventurers from Vancouver's Island and the United States territories in Oregon; and there is no doubt in my mind that sooner or later the intervention of Her Majesty's Government will be required to restore and maintain the peace. Up to the present time, however, the country continues quiet, but simply, I believe, because the whites have not attempted to resist the impositions of the natives. I will, however, make it a part of my duty to keep you well informed in respect to the state of the gold country.
6. The extent of the gold region is yet but imperfectly known, and I have, therefore, not arrived at any decided opinion as to its ultimate value as a gold-producing country. The boundaries of the gold district have been, however, greatly extended since ay former report.
7. In addition to the diggings before known on Thompson River and its tributary streams, a valuable deposit has been recently found by the natives, on a bank of Fraser River, about fifty miles beyond its confluence with the Thompson, and gold in small quantities has been found in the possession of the natives as far as the great falls of Fraser River, about eighty miles above the Forks. The small quantity of gold hitherto produced—about eight hundred ounces—by the large native population of the country is, however, unaccountable in a rich gold-producing country, unless we assume that the want of skill, industry, and proper mining tools on the part of the natives sufficiently account for the fact.
8. On the contrary, the vein rocks and its other geological features, as described by an experienced gold miner, encourage the belief that the country is highly auriferous.
9. The miner in question clearly described the older slate formations thrown up and pierced by beds of quartz, granite, porphyry, and other igneous rocks; the vast accumulations of sand, gravel, and shingle extending from the roots of the mountains to the banks of Fraser River and its affluents, which are peculiar characteristics of the gold districts of California and other countries. We therefore hope, and are preparing for a rich harvest of trade, which will greatly redound to the advantage of this colony.
10. I have further to communicate for your information that the proclamation issued by me, asserting the rights of the Crown to all gold in its natural place of deposit, and forbidding all persons to dig for gold without a licence, has been published in the newspapers of Oregon and Washington territories, and that, notwithstanding, some seventy or eighty adventurers from the American side have gone by the way of Fraser River to the Couteau mines without taking out licences.
11. I did not, as I might have done, attempt to enforce those rights by means of a detachment of seamen and marines, from the "Satellite," without being assured that such a proceeding would meet with the approval of Her Majesty's Government; but the moment your instructions on the subject are received, I will take measures to carry them into effect.
I have, etcetera, (Signed) James Douglas, Governor.
The Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, M.P., etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Governor Douglas to the Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, M.P.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, May 8, 1858.
Since I had the honour of addressing you on the 6th of April last on the subject of the "Couteau" gold mines, they have become more than ever a source of attraction to the people of Washington and Oregon territories, and it is evident from the accounts published in the latest San Francisco papers, that intense excitement prevails among the inhabitants of that stirring city on the same subject.
The "Couteau" country is there represented and supposed to be in point of mineral wealth a second California or Australia, and those impressions are sustained by the false and exaggerated statements of steamboat owners and other interested parties, who benefit by the current of emigration which is now setting strongly towards this quarter.
Boats, canoes, and every species of small craft, are continually employed in pouring their cargoes of human beings into Fraser River, and it is supposed that not less than one thousand whites are already at work and on the way to the gold districts. Many accidents have happened in the dangerous rapids of that river; a great number of canoes have been dashed to pieces, and their cargoes swept away by the impetuous stream, while of the ill-fated adventurers who accompanied them many have been swept into eternity.
The others, nothing daunted by the spectacle of ruin and buoyed up by the hope of amassing wealth, still keep pressing onward towards the coveted goal of their most ardent wishes.
On the 25th of last month, the American steamer "Commodore" arrived in this port direct from San Francisco, with 450 passengers on board, the chief part of whom are gold miners for the "Couteau" country.
Nearly 400 of those men were landed at this place, and have since left in boats and canoes for Fraser River.
I ascertained from inquiries on the subject that those men are all well provided with mining tools, and that there was no dearth of capital or intelligence among them. About sixty British subjects, with an equal number of native born Americans, the rest being chiefly Germans, with a smaller proportion of Frenchmen and Italians, composed this body of adventurers.
They are represented as being, with some exceptions, a specimen of the worst of the population of San Francisco; the very dregs, in fact, of society. Their conduct while here would have led me to form a very different conclusion; as our little town, though crowded to excess with this sudden influx of people, and though there was a temporary scarcity of food, and dearth of house accommodation, the police few in number, and many temptations to excess in the way of drink, yet quiet and order prevailed, and there was not a single committal for rioting, drunkenness, or other offences during their stay here.
The merchants and other business classes of Victoria are rejoicing in the advent of so large a body of the people in the colony, and are strongly in favour of making this port a stopping point between San Francisco and the gold mines, converting the latter, as it were, into a feeder and dependency of this colony.
Victoria would thus become a depot and centre of trade for the gold districts, and the natural consequence would be an immediate increase in the wealth and population of the colony.
To effect that object it will be requisite to facilitate by every possible means the transport of passengers and goods to the furthest navigable point on Fraser River; and the obvious means of accomplishing that end is to employ light steamers in plying between, and connecting this port (Victoria) with the Falls of Fraser River, distant 130 miles from the discharge of that river, into the Gulf of Georgia; those falls being generally believed to be at the commencement of the remunerative gold diggings, and from thence the miners would readily make their, way on foot, or, after the summer freshets, by the river into the interior of the country.
By that means also the whole trade of the gold regions would pass through Fraser River and be retained within the British territory, forming a valuable outlet for British manufactured goods, and at once creating a lucrative trade between the mother country and Vancouver's Island.
Taking a view of the subject, simply in its relations to trade and commerce, apart from considerations of national policy, such perhaps would be the course most likely to promote the interests of this colony; but, on the contrary, if the country be thrown open, to indiscriminate immigration, the interests of the empire may suffer from the introduction of a foreign population, whose sympathies may be decidedly anti-British.
Taking this view of the question, it assumes an alarming aspect, and suggests a doubt as to the policy of permitting the free entrance of foreigners into the British territory for residence, without in the first place requiring them to take the oath of allegiance, and otherwise to give such security for their conduct as the Government of the country may deem it proper and necessary to require at their hands.
The opinion which I have formed on the subject leads me to think that, in the event of the diggings proving remunerative, it will now be found impossible to check the course of immigration, even by closing Fraser River, as the miners would then force a passage into the gold district by way of the Columbia River, and the valuable trade of the country in that case be driven from its natural course into a foreign channel, and entirely lost to this country.
On the contrary, should the diggings prove to be unremunerative, a question which as yet remains undecided, the existing excitement, we may suppose, will die away of itself; and the miners, having no longer the prospect of large gains, will naturally abandon a country which no longer holds out any inducement for them to remain.
Until the value of the country as a gold-producing region be established on clearer evidence than can now be adduced in its favour—and the point will no doubt be decided before the close of the present year—I would simply recommend that a small naval or military force should be placed at the disposal of this Government, to enable us to maintain the peace, and to enforce obedience to the laws.
The system of granting licences for digging gold has not yet come into operation.
Perhaps a similar method of raising a revenue would be to impose a customs' duty on imports, to be levied on all supplies brought into the country, whether by Fraser or the Columbia River.
The export of gold from the country is still inconsiderable, not exceeding 600 ounces since I last addressed you. The principal diggings are reported to be at present, and will probably continue, flooded for several months to come, so that unless other diggings apart from the river beds are discovered, the production of gold will not increase until the summer freshets are over, which will probably happen about the middle of August next. In the meantime the ill-provided adventurers who have gone hither and thither will consume their stock of provisions, and probably have to retire from the country until a more favourable season.
I shall be most happy to receive your instructions on the subject in this letter.
Copy of a better from the Secretary of the Admiralty to Herman Merivale, Esquire.
Admiralty, June 26, 1858.
Sir,—I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to send you herewith, for the information of Secretary Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, a copy of a letter from Captain Prevost, of H.M. Ship "Satellite," dated at Vancouver's Island, 7th May 1858, respecting the discovery of gold on Fraser and Thompson Rivers, near to the 51st parallel of north latitude, in North America.
The newspaper and specimen of gold dust referred to in Captain Prevost's letter are also enclosed.
I am, etcetera, (Signed) H. Corby.
Herman Merivale, Esquire, Colonial Office.
Enclosures Number 12.
H.M.S. "Satellite," Esquimault, Vancouver's Island, May 7, 1858.
I have the honour to report to you that considerable excitement has been occasioned recently in this neighbourhood by the discovery of gold on Fraser and Thompson Rivers, at about the position of the juncture of the latter with the former river, near to 51st parallel of north latitude.
The reports concerning these new gold diggings are so contradictory that I am unable to furnish you with any information upon which I can depend. That gold exists is certain, and that it will be found in abundance seems to be the opinion of all those who are capable of forming a judgment upon the subject; but it is so obviously to the advantage of the surrounding community to circulate exaggerated, if not altogether false reports, for the purpose of stimulating trade, or creating monopolies, that it is most difficult to arrive at any correct conclusion, or to, obtain any reliable information. I have every reason to believe that the Indians have traded some quantity of gold with the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company, and I am satisfied that individuals from this immediate neighbourhood who started off to the diggings upon the first intelligence of their existence, have come back with gold dust in their possession, and which they assert was washed by themselves; but whether such be really the case, or whether it was traded from the Indians, I am unable to determine. These persons all declare that at the present moment, although the yield is good, yet there is too much water in the rivers to admit of digging and washing to be carried on with facility; but that when the water falls somewhat, as the summer advances, that the yield will be abundant. I am inclined to think that this information is not far from the truth, for these persons, after obtaining a fresh stock of provision, have all returned to the diggings.
The excitement in Vancouver's Island itself is quite insignificant compared to that in Washington and Oregon territories, and in California, and which, of course, is increased by every possible means by interested parties. The result has been that several hundred persons from American territory have already flocked to the newly reported auriferous regions, and by the last accounts fresh steamers, and even sailing vessels, were being chartered to convey passengers to Puget Sound, or to Vancouver's Island, whence they have to find their way to the diggings principally by canoes.
I have heard that all the crews of the ships in Puget Sound have deserted, and have gone to the diggings; I am happy to say that as yet I have not lost a single man from the "Satellite" since the information was received, and I have every reason to hope that I may not be unfortunate in this respect, although, doubtless, soon the temptations to desert will be of no ordinary character.
Secretary Sir E. Bulwer Lytton to Governor Douglas.
Downing Street, July 1, 1858.
Sir,—I have to acknowledge your despatch of the 8th ult, in continuation of former despatches, informing the Secretary of State from time to time of the progress of the gold discoveries on Fraser River, and the measures which you had taken in consequence. I am anxious not to let the opportunity of the present mail pass without informing you that Her Majesty's Government have under their consideration the pressing necessity for taking some steps to establish public order and government in that locality, and that I hope very soon to be able to communicate to you the result.
In the meantime, Her Majesty's Government approve of the course which you have adopted in asserting both the dominion of the Crown over this region, and the right of the Crown over the precious metals. They think, however, that you acted judiciously in waiting for further instructions before you endeavoured to compel the taking out of licences, by causing any force to be despatched for that purpose from Vancouver's Island.
They wish you to continue your vigilance, and to apply for instructions on any point on which you may require them. They are, however, in addition, particularly anxious to impress on you, that while Her Majesty's Government are determined on preserving the rights, both of government and of commerce, which belong to this country, and while they have it in contemplation to furnish you with such a force as they may be able to detach for your assistance and support in the preservation of law and order, it is no part of their policy to exclude Americans and other foreigners from the gold fields. On the contrary, you are distinctly instructed to oppose no obstacle whatever to their resort thither for the purpose of digging in those fields, so long as they submit themselves, in common with the subjects of Her Majesty, to the recognition of her authority, and conform to such rules of police as you may have thought proper to establish. The national right to navigate Fraser River is, of course, a separate question, and one which Her Majesty's Government must reserve.
Under the circumstance of so large an immigration of Americans into English territory, I need hardly impress upon you the importance of caution and delicacy in dealing with those manifold cases of international relationship and feeling which are certain to arise; and which, but for the exercise of temper and discretion, might easily lead to serious complications between two neighbouring and powerful states.
It is impossible by this mail to furnish you with any instructions of a more definite character. Her Majesty's Government must leave much to your discretion on this most important subject; and they rely upon your exercising whatever influence and powers you may possess in the manner which from local knowledge and experience you conceive to be best calculated to give development to the new country, and to advance imperial interests. I have, etcetera, (Signed) E. Bulwer Lytton.
Governor Douglas, etcetera, etcetera.
CHARTER INCORPORATING THE HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY.
In 1670, a royal charter was granted by Charles the Second, for incorporating the Hudson's Bay Company. The grant to the company was of "the sole trade and commerce of all those seas, straits, bays, rivers, lakes, creeks, and sounds, in whatsoever latitude they shall be, that lie within the entrance of the straits, commonly called Hudson's Straits, together with all the lands and territories upon the countries, coasts, and confines of the seas, bays, lakes, rivers, creeks and sounds aforesaid, that are not already actually possessed by or granted to any of our subjects, or possessed by the subjects of any other Christian prince or State, with the fishing of all sorts of fish, whales, sturgeons, and all other royal fishes in the seas, bays, inlets, and rivers within the premises; and the fish therein taken, together with the royalty of the sea upon the coasts within the limits aforesaid, and all mines royal, as well discovered as not discovered, of gold, silver, gems, and precious stones to be found or discovered within the territories, limits, and places aforesaid;" and the charter declares that "the said land be from henceforth reckoned as one of our plantations or colonies in America, called Rupert's Land."
COMPARISON BETWEEN PRICE OF LABOUR IN AUSTRALIA AND CALIFORNIA OR BRITISH COLUMBIA.
From the Times' Correspondent.
I take the wages in Australia from a Melbourne paper of 16th March, which gives the wages current at that time! I received it direct a few days ago. I reduce our American currency into sterling at 48 pence to the dollar, that being about its current value here.
Married couples (servants), 60 pounds to 70 pounds per annum; female servants, 25 pounds to 30 pounds per annum; gardeners, 55 pounds to 60 pounds per annum; grooms, 40 pounds to 50 pounds a-year; carpenters, 12 shillings to 14 shillings per day; ditto, rough, 25 shillings to 30 shillings per week; masons and bricklayers, 10 shillings to 15 shillings per day; waiters, 20 shillings to 25 shillings per week; compositors, 1 shilling 4 pence per 1000; blacksmiths, 40 shillings per week; farm labourers, 15 shillings to 20 shillings per week; shepherds, 20 pounds to 25 pounds a-year.
Married couples (servants), 192 pounds per annum, and found; female servants, 80 pounds to 96 pounds, and kept; gardeners, 120 pounds a-year, and found; by the day, 3 dollars, now 4 dollars; young men in stables as grooms, 120 pounds a-year, and found, 16 pounds a month and find themselves; carpenters, with us till lately 1 pound a-day, now 28 shillings a-day; "rough" and smooth, I never knew any difference—and all bad; masons and bricklayers at lowest time, 25 shillings a-day, here at present 35 shillings a-day; waiters, 6 pounds to 8 pounds a-month in San Francisco; compositors, 2 shillings 10 and a half pence per 1000 type, our types double size; blacksmiths, 3 pounds 12 shillings to 6 pounds a-week; general rate, 5 dollars a day; farm labourers, 6 pounds a-month, and found, and only work from 7 o'clock to 6 o'clock, with two hours for meals; shepherds, 144 pounds, 10 shillings a-year, and found; a competent shepherd worth 240 pounds a-year, and found; or, to serve on shares of increase of stock, on very liberal terms.
All provisions except animal food, are cheaper in San Francisco than in Melbourne.
TREATY MADE BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN IN REGARD TO THE LIMITS WESTWARD OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, JUNE 15, 1846.
Article 1. From the point on the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, where the boundary laid down in existing treaties and conventions between the United States and Great Britain, terminates, the line of boundary between the territories of the United States and those of her Britannic Majesty shall be continued westward along the said forty-ninth parallel of north, latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island, and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca's Straits, to the Pacific ocean: Provided, however, that the navigation of the whole of the said channel and straits, south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, remain free and open to both parties.
Article 2. From the point at which the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude shall be found to intersect the great northern branch of the Columbia River, the navigation of the said branch shall be free and open to the Hudson's Bay Company, and to all British subjects trading with the same, to the point where the said branch meets the main stream of the Columbia, and thence down the said main stream to the ocean, with free access into and through the said river or rivers, it being understood that all the usual portages along the line thus described shall, in like manner, be free and open. In navigating the said river or rivers, British subjects, with their goods and produce, shall be treated on the same footing as citizens of the United States; it being, however, always understood that nothing in this article shall be construed as preventing or intended to prevent, the government of the United States from making any regulations respecting the navigation of the said river or rivers not inconsistent with the present treaty.
Article 3. In the future appropriation of the territory south of the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, as provided in the first article of this treaty, the possessory rights of the Hudson's Bay Company, and of all British subjects who may be already in the occupation of land or other property, lawfully acquired within the said territory, shall be respected.
Article 4. The farms, lands, and other property of every description, belonging to the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company, on the north side of the Columbia River, shall be confirmed to the said company. In case, however, the situation of those farms and lands should be considered by the United States to be of public and political importance, and the United States Government should signify a desire to obtain possession of the whole, or of any part thereof, the property so required shall be transferred to the said government, at a proper valuation, to be agreed upon between the parties.
FORM OF LICENCE GRANTED TO DIGGERS.
The bearer having paid to me the sum of twenty-one shillings on account of the territorial revenue, I hereby license him to dig, search for, and remove gold on and from any such crown land within the —- of —- as I shall assign to him for that purpose during the month of —-, 185—.
This licence must be produced whenever demanded by me or any other person acting under the authority of the Government. A.B., Commissioner.