On leaving this place he crossed the river at a ford, and, soon afterwards, began to ascend the steep ridges on the west side of the valley. The prospects of the surrounding country here presented to his view, were, in many instances, peculiarly beautiful. Having reached the summits of the mountains, he afterwards passed through a series of magnificent forests, and then approached an ample meadow, bordered with a high circular amphitheatre of hills, the ridges of which rose magnificently one above another. After this the surface of the land was level, and, in some places exhibited views of grand forests, and dark, detached groves, and in others of fertile vales and meadows.
After having crossed a delightful river, a main branch of the Tugilo, Mr. Bartram passed through a mountainous country. Here, being overtaken by a tremendous hurricane, accompanied with torrents of rain, and the most awful thunder imaginable, in the midst of a solitary wilderness, he was glad to obtain shelter in a forsaken Indian dwelling. In this he lighted a fire, dried his clothes, comforted himself with a frugal repast of biscuit and dried beef, and afterwards passed the night.
At some distance beyond this cottage, were the ruins of an Indian town called Sticoe. At this place was a vast Indian mount or tumulus, with a great terrace. Here also were old peach and plum-orchards, some of the trees of which still appeared to be thriving and fruitful. From Sticoe, proceeding along a vale, and crossing a delightful brook, which falls into the Tenessee, Mr. Bartram followed its course nearly as far as Cowe, an Indian town which stands in a valley on the bank of one of the branches of the river Tenessee. He had letters of introduction to a gentleman resident in this place, who had, for many years, been a trader with the Indians, and who was noted for his humanity, his probity, and his equitable dealings with them. By this gentleman he was received with every demonstration of hospitality and friendship.
After having staid two days at Cowe, and, in the mean time, having made some excursions to places in its vicinity, Mr. Bartram proceeded on his journey, and was accompanied, about fifteen miles, by his hospitable friend, the trader. After this gentleman had left him, he was in the midst of solitude, surrounded by dreary and trackless mountains; and, for some time, he was unable to erase from his mind a notion that his present situation in some degree resembled that of Nebuchadnezzar, when expelled from the society of men, and constrained to roam in the wilderness, there to herd and to feed with the beasts of the forest. He, however, proceeded with all the alacrity which prudence would permit. His present object was, at all events, to cross the Jore Mountains, said to be the highest land in the Cherokee country. These he soon afterwards began to ascend; and, at length, he accomplished one part of his arduous task. From the most elevated peak of these mountains, he beheld, with rapture and astonishment, a sublimely awful scene of magnificence, a world of mountains piled upon mountains.
On the ensuing day, still proceeding in his journey westward, Mr. Bartram, on descending from the heights, observed a company of Indians on horseback. They rapidly approached him; and, under an impression that one of them, who was at the head of the troop, was the emperor or grand chief of the Cherokees, Mr. Bartram turned out of the path in token of respect. In this supposition he was correct, and the compliment was accepted, for the chief, with a cheerful smile, came up to him, and placing his hand on his breast, then offered it to Mr. Bartram, and heartily shook hands with him. The chief made enquiry respecting a gentleman of Charleston, with whom he was acquainted, and afterwards welcomed Mr. Bartram into his country, as a friend and brother. Being, at this time, on a journey to Charleston, he shook hands with Mr. Bartram, bade him heartily farewell, and then proceeded.
Describing the Cherokee Indians, our traveller says that these people construct their habitations in a square form, each building being only one story high. The materials consist of logs or trunks of trees, stripped of their bark, notched at the ends, fixed one upon another, and afterwards plastered both inside and out, with clay well tempered with dry grass; and the whole covered or roofed with the bark of the chesnut-tree, or with broad shingles or wooden tiles. The principal building is partitioned transversely, so as to form three apartments, which communicate with each other by inside doors. Each habitation has also a little conical house, which is called the winter or hot-house; this stands a few yards from the mansion-house, and opposite to the front door.
The council or town-house at Cowe, is a large rotunda, capable of accommodating several hundred people. It stands on the summit of an ancient artificial mount, about twenty feet high; and the rotunda at the top, being about thirty feet more, gives to the whole fabric an elevation of sixty feet from the ground. But the mount on which the rotunda stands, is of much more ancient date than the building, and perhaps was raised for some other purpose than to support it. The Cherokees themselves are ignorant by what people, or for what purpose, these artificial hills were raised. According to their traditions, they were found in much the same state as they now appear, when their forefathers arrived from the west, and possessed themselves of the country, after vanquishing the nations of red men who then inhabited it, and who themselves found these mounts when they took possession of the country.
Mr. Bartram, in company with some Europeans that were resident here, went one evening to the rotunda, to witness a grand entertainment of music and dancing. This was held principally for the purpose of rehearsing what is called a ball-play dance; the inhabitants of Cowe having received a challenge to play against those of another town.
The people, being assembled and seated, and the musicians having taken their station, the ball was opened, first with a long harangue or oration, spoken by an aged chief, in commendation of the manly exercise of ball-play. This chief recounted the many and brilliant victories which the town of Cowe had gained over the other towns in the nation; not forgetting to recite his own exploits, together with those of other aged men now present, coadjutors in the performance of these athletic games during their youthful days.
This oration ended, the music, both vocal and instrumental, began. Presently a company of girls, hand in hand, dressed in clean white robes, and ornamented with beads, bracelets, and a profusion of gay ribbons, entering the door, sang responses in a gentle, low, and sweet tone of voice; and formed themselves in a semicircular file, or line of two ranks, back to back, facing the spectators, and moving slowly round. This continued about a quarter of an hour, when the strangers were surprised by a sudden loud and shrill whoop, uttered by a company of young men, who came in briskly, after one another, each with a racket or hurl in his hand. These champions likewise were well dressed, painted, and ornamented with silver bracelets, gorgets, and wampum, and having high waving plumes in their diadems: they immediately formed themselves in a semicircular rank in front of the girls; on which these changed their position, and formed a single rank parallel to that of the men. They raised their voices, in responses to the tunes of the young champions, the semicircles continually moving round during the time.
The Cherokees, besides the ball-play dance, have several others, equally entertaining. The men, especially, exercise themselves in a variety of gesticulations and capers, some of which are extremely ludicrous. They have others of a martial kind, and others illustrative of the chase: these seem to be somewhat of a tragical nature, in which they exhibit astonishing feats of military prowess, masculine strength, and activity. Indeed, all their dances and musical entertainments seem to be theatrical exhibitions or plays, varied with comic, and sometimes indecent interludes.
On the ensuing morning, Mr. Bartram set off on his return to Fort James; and, two days afterwards, he again arrived at Keowe, where he continued two or three days. In the environs of this place he observed some very singular Indian antiquities. They each consisted of four flat stones, two set on edge for the side, another closed one end, and a very large flat stone was laid horizontally on the top. Mr. Bartram conjectures that they must have been either altars for sacrifices, or sepulchres.
This gentleman accompanied the traders to Sinica, where he continued some time, employing himself in observations, and in making collections of such things as were deserving of notice; and, not long afterwards, he once more reached Fort James.
From this place he set out with a caravan, consisting of twenty men and sixty horses. Their first day's journey was, for the most part, over high gravelly ridges, and hills of considerable eminence. Many scarce and interesting plants were discovered along the sides of the roads. They passed several considerable creeks, branches of the Ocone, and, on the first of July, encamped, on the banks of that river, in a delightful grove. They forded the river at a place where it was about two hundred and fifty yards wide. Subsequently they crossed the Oakmulge and Flint rivers. In many places they observed that the soil was rich, and admirably adapted to every branch of agriculture and grazing. The country was diversified with hills and dales, savannas, and vast cane-meadows, and watered by innumerable rivulets and brooks. During the day the horses were excessively tormented by flies of several kinds, and the numbers of which were almost incredible. They formed, around the caravan, a vast cloud, so thick as to obscure every distant object. The heads, necks, and shoulders of the leading horses were continually covered with blood, the consequence of the attacks of these tormenting insects. Some of them were horse-flies, as large as humble-bees; and others were different species of gnats and musquitoes. During the day the heat was often intense.
After traversing a very delightful country, the party reached the Chata Uche river, which was betwixt three and four hundred yards in width. They crossed it to Uche town, situated on a vast plain. This, Mr. Bartram observes, was the most compact and best situated Indian town he had ever seen. The habitations were large and neatly built, having their walls constructed of a wooden frame, then lathed and plastered inside and out with a reddish, well-tempered clay or mortar, which gave them the appearance of brick. Uche appeared to be populous and thriving. The whole number of inhabitants was about fifteen hundred, of whom about five hundred are gun-men or warriors.
Beyond this the travellers arrived at another Indian town called Apalachucla, the capital of the Creek Indians. This place is sacred to peace. No captives are here put to death, and no human blood is spilt. And when a general peace is proposed, deputies from all the towns in the confederacy assemble at this capital, in order to deliberate on the subject. On the contrary, the great Coweta town; about twelve miles distant, is called the bloody town, for here the micos, chiefs, and warriors assemble, when a general war is proposed; and here captives and state malefactors are executed.
The caravan continued at Apalachucla about a week, for the purpose of recruiting the strength of the horses, by turning them out into the swamps to feed. After this, having repaired their equipage, and replenished themselves with fresh supplies of provisions, on the thirteenth of July they resumed their journey for Mobile.
Beyond Talasse, a town on the Tallapoose river, they changed their course to a southerly direction, and, not long afterwards, arrived at Coloome, a settlement, where they continued two days. The houses of this place are neat and commodious; each of the buildings consists of a wooden frame with plastered walls, and is roofed with cypress bark or shingles. Every habitation consists of four oblong square houses, of one story, and so arranged as to form an exact square, encompassing an area or court-yard of about a quarter of an acre of ground, and leaving an entrance at each corner. There was a beautiful square, in the centre of the new town; but the stores of the principal trader, and two or three Indian habitations, stood near the banks of the opposite shore, on the side of the old Coloome town. The Tallapoose river is here three hundred yards wide, and fifteen or twenty feet deep.
Having procured a guide, to conduct them into the great trading path of West Florida, they set out for Mobile. Their progress, for about eighteen miles, was through a magnificent forest, which, at intervals, afforded them a view of distant Indian towns. At night, they encamped beneath a grove of oaks; but, shortly afterwards, there fell so extraordinary a shower of rain, that, suddenly, the whole adjacent ground was inundated, and they were obliged to continue standing through the whole of the night. Early in the morning, the guide, having performed his duty, returned home; and the travellers continued their journey, over an extended series of grassy plains, more than twenty miles in length, and eight or nine miles wide. These plains were bounded by high forests, which, in some places, presented magnificent and pleasing sylvan landscapes, of primitive and uncultivated nature. They crossed several rivulets and creeks, branches of the Alabama, the eastern arm of the Mobile. These rivulets were adorned with groves of various trees and shrubs. Immediately beyond the plains, the travellers entered a high, and grand forest; and the road, for several miles, led them near the banks of the Alabama. The surface of the land was broken into hills and vales; some of them of considerable elevation, and covered with forests of stately trees.
After many miles' travelling, over a varied and interesting country, they arrived at the eastern channel of the river Mobile, and, on the same day, reached the city to which they were proceeding. Mobile stands on the easy ascent of a rising bank, near the western side of the bay of that name. This place has been nearly a mile in length; but it was now in ruins. Many of the houses were, at this time, unoccupied, and mouldering away; yet there were a few good buildings, inhabited by French, English, Scotch, and Irish, and emigrants from the northern parts of America. The principal French buildings were constructed of brick, and were one story high, but on an extensive scale. They were square, and were built so as to encompass, on three sides, a large area or court-yard. The principal apartment was on the side fronting the street. This plan of habitations seems to have been copied from that of the Creek Indians. The houses of the poorer class of inhabitants were constructed of a strong frame of cypress-timber, filled up with brick; plastered and white-washed inside and out.
On the 5th of August, having procured a light canoe, Mr. Bartram set out on a voyage up the river. He sailed along the eastern channel, and passed several well-cultivated plantations, on fertile islands. Here the native productions exceeded, in luxuriance, any that he had ever seen: the reeds and canes, in particular, grew to an immense height and thickness. On one part of the shore of the river, he was delighted by the appearance of a great number of plants, of a species of oenothera, each plant being covered with hundreds of large golden yellow flowers. Near the ruins of several plantations, were seen peach and fig-trees, richly laden with fruit. Beyond these, were high forests and rich swamps, where canes and cypress-trees grew of astonishing magnitude. The magnolia grandiflora, here flourished in the utmost luxuriance; and flowering-trees and shrubs were observed, in great numbers and beauty. Several large alligators were seen basking on the shores, and others were swimming along the river. After having pursued his course for several miles, and made many important botanical discoveries, Mr. Bartram returned to Mobile, for the purpose of proceeding thence, in a trading-vessel, westward, to the Pearl river.
Previously, however, to setting out on his voyage westward, he had an opportunity of visiting Pensacola, the capital of West Florida, about a hundred miles east of Mobile. This city possesses some natural advantages, superior to those of any other port in this province. It is situated on a gently rising ground, environing a harbour, sufficiently capacious to shelter all the navies of Europe. Several rivers fall into this harbour; but none of them are navigable for ships of burden, to any considerable distance. In Pensacola there are several hundred habitations. The governor's palace is a large brick building, ornamented with a tower. The town is defended by a fortress, within which is the council-chamber, houses for the officers, and barracks for the soldiers of the garrison. On the sand-hills, near this place, Mr. Bartram discovered several species of plants, which at that time had not been described.
Having again returned to Mobile, he left that place, in a trading-boat, the property of a Frenchman, who was about to sail to his plantations, on the banks of the Pearl river. Before Mr. Bartram set out on this expedition, he had been attacked by a severe complaint in his eyes, which occasioned extreme pain, and almost deprived him of sight: it did not, however, deter him from proceeding. On his arrival at Pearl river, he was, however, so ill, as to be laid up, for several weeks, at the house of an English gentleman, who resided on an island in that river. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered to prosecute his journey, he proceeded, in a boat, to Manchac on the Mississippi.
Having sailed westward for some days, he entered the river Amite, and, ascending it, arrived at a landing-place, from which he crossed, by land, to Manchac, about nine miles distant. The road was straight, spacious, and level, and extended beneath the shadow of a grand forest. On arriving at the banks of the Mississippi, Mr. Bartram stood, for some time, fascinated by the magnificence of this grand river. Its width was nearly a mile, and its depth at least two hundred and forty feet. But it is not merely the expansion of its surface which astonishes and delights: its lofty banks, the steady course of its mighty flood, the trees which overhang its waters, the magnificent forests by which it is bounded; all combine in exhibiting prospects the most sublime that can be imagined. At Manchac, the banks are at least fifty feet in perpendicular height.
After having continued in this place a short time, Mr. Bartram made an excursion several miles up the Mississippi. At his return, he once more set sail for Mobile, where, not long afterwards, he safely arrived.
On the 27th of November, he sailed up the river, from Mobile, in a large trading-boat, and the same evening arrived at Taensa. Here the merchandise, which the boat had conveyed, was formed into small packages, and placed on horses, for the purpose of being conveyed overland. The party now consisted of between twenty and thirty horses, two drivers, the owner of the goods, and Mr. Bartram; who found this mode of travelling very unpleasant. They seldom set out till the sun had been some hours risen. Each of the men had a whip, made of cow-skin; and, the horses having ranged themselves in a line, the chief drove them by the crack of his whip, and by a whoop or shriek, so loud as to ring through the forests and plains. The pace was a brisk trot, which was incessantly urged, and continued as long as the miserable creatures were able to move forward. Each horse had a bell; and the incessant clattering of the bells, smacking of the whips, and whooping of the men, caused an uproar and confusion which was inexpressibly disagreeable. The time for encamping was generally about the middle of the afternoon; a time which, to Mr. Bartram, would have been the pleasantest for travelling.
After having proceeded on their journey several days, they came to the banks of a large and deep river, a branch of the Alabama. The waters ran furiously, being overcharged with the floods of a violent rain, which had fallen the day before. There was no possibility of crossing this river by fording it. With considerable difficulty, a kind of raft was made, of dry canes and pieces of timber, bound together by a species of vines or vegetable cords, which are common in the woods of the tropical districts of America. When this raft was completed, one of the Indians swam over the river, having in his mouth the end of a long vine attached to it; and, by hauling the raft backward and forward, all the goods were safely landed on the opposite side: the men and horses swam across.
In the evening of the day on which they passed this stream, the party arrived at the banks of the great Tallapoose river; and encamped, for the night, under the shelter of some Indian cabins. On the ensuing day they were conducted across the river, in the canoes of a party of Indians who were resident in the neighbourhood. Not long afterwards, the travellers arrived at the Indian town of Alabama, situated near the junction of two fine rivers, the Tallapoose and the Coosa. At this place were seen the traces of an ancient French fortress, with a few pieces of cannon, half-buried in the earth. This, says Mr. Bartram, is perhaps one of the most eligible situations in the world for a large town: it is a level plain, at the conflux of two majestic rivers, each navigable for vessels, to the distance of at least five hundred miles above it, and spreading their numerous branches over a great extent of fertile and delightful country.
The travellers continued all night at Alabama, where a grand entertainment was made for them, with music and dancing, in the great square. They then proceeded along the Tallapoose to Mucclasse. In their journey they passed through numerous plantations and Indian towns, and were every where treated by the inhabitants with hospitality and friendship.
About three weeks after this, Mr. Bartram joined a company of traders, and proceeded with them to Augusta. They set out in the morning of the 2d of January, 1788, the whole surface of the ground being covered with a white and beautifully sparkling frost. The company, besides Mr. Bartram, consisted of four men, with about thirty horses, twenty of which were laden with leather and furs. In three days they arrived at the Apalachula or Chata Uche river, and crossed it at the towns of Chehau and Usseta. These towns nearly join each other, yet the inhabitants speak different languages. Beyond this river nothing of importance occurred, till they arrived at Oakmulge. Here they encamped in expansive, ancient Indian fields, and within view of the foaming flood of the river, which now raged over its banks. There were, at this place, two companies of traders from Augusta, each consisting of fifteen or twenty men, with seventy or eighty horses. The traders whom Mr. Bartram accompanied, had with them a portable leather boat, eight feet long. It was made of thick sole-leather, was folded up, and carried on one of the horses. This boat was now put together, and rigged; and in it the party was ferried across the river. They afterwards crossed the Ocone, in the same manner; and encamped in fertile fields on the banks of that beautiful river. Proceeding thence, they encamped, the next day, on the banks of the Ogeche; and, after two days hard travelling, beyond this river, they arrived at Augusta, whence, shortly afterwards, Mr. Bartram proceeded to Savannah.
Thirteenth Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
Narrative of MR. BARTRAM'S Journey from Savannah into East Florida.
Leaving Savannah at the most beautiful season of the year, Mr. Bartram proceeded, on horseback, to Sunbury, a sea-port, about forty miles distant; and thence to Fort Barrington. Much of the intervening country was level, and well watered by large streams. The road was straight, spacious, and in excellent repair. For a considerable distance it was bordered on each side by groves, of various kinds of trees and shrubs, entwined with bands and garlands of flowering-plants. Extensive plantations of rice and corn, now in early verdure, were seen, decorated, here and there, with groves of floriferous and fragrant trees and shrubs, through which, at intervals, appeared the neat habitations of the proprietors.
At Fort Barrington, Mr. Bartram crossed the river Alatamaha, here about five hundred yards in width. When safely landed on the opposite side, he mounted his horse, and followed the high road, through an uninhabited wilderness, to the ferry on St. Ille. The sudden transition, from rich cultivated settlements, to high pine-forests, and dark grassy savannas, formed, he says, no disagreeable contrast; and the new objects, in the works of nature, which here excited his attention, soon reconciled him to the change. In the midst of the woods he observed great numbers of dens, or caverns, which had been dug in the sand-hills, by the gopher, or great land tortoise.
The next day's progress, presented scenes nearly similar to these; though the land was lower, more level and humid, and the produce was more varied. Mr. Bartram passed some troublesome cane-swamps, in which he saw several herds of horned-cattle, horses, and deer, and noticed many interesting plants.
In the evening, he arrived at St. Ille's, where he lodged; and, next morning, having crossed the river in a ferry-boat, he proceeded towards St. Mary's. The appearance of the country, its soil, and productions, between these rivers, were nearly similar to those which he had already passed, except that the savannas were more frequent and extensive.
Mr. Bartram had now passed the utmost frontier of the white settlements, on that border; and the day was drawing towards a close, when, on a sudden, an Indian, armed with a rifle, crossed the path, at a considerable distance before him. This man, turning short round, came up at full gallop. Though his intentions, at first, seemed hostile, he, after some hesitation, shook Mr. Bartram by the hand, directed him on his way, and then proceeded in his former course. Mr. Bartram again set forward, and, after riding eight or ten miles, arrived at the banks of St. Mary's, opposite to the stores, and got safely over that river, before dark.
The savannas about St. Mary's displayed a very charming appearance, of flowers and verdure: their more elevated borders were varied with beds of violets, lupines, and amaryllis; and with a new and beautiful species of sensitive plant.
In a subsequent excursion, Mr. Bartram, accompanied by some other gentlemen, passed the mouth of St. Mary's, and entered the river St. Juan, or St. John.
At Cowford, a public ferry over this river, and about thirty miles from its mouth, he procured a neat little sail-boat; and, having stored it with necessaries for his voyage, he proceeded up the river alone, in search of new productions of nature; having his chief happiness centered in tracing and admiring the infinite power, majesty, and perfection of the great Creator, and in the contemplation that, through divine permission, he might be instrumental in introducing into his native country, some productions which might become useful to society. His little vessel, being furnished with a good sail, and with fishing-tackle, a swivel gun, powder, and ball, Mr. Bartram found himself well equipped for his voyage, of about one hundred miles, to the trading houses of the Indians.
Having proceeded about eight miles above Cowford, to a place where the river was nearly three miles broad, he was obliged to land, as his boat had sustained some damage from the wind; and, a thunder-storm coming on, he resolved to continue on shore till the morning. Observing a large oak-tree, which had been thrown down by a hurricane, and which offered him a convenient shelter, as its branches bore up the trunk a sufficient height from the earth, to admit him either to, sit or to lie down beneath it, he spread his sail, slanting from the trunk of the tree to the ground, on the windward side; and, having collected a quantity of wood sufficient to keep up a fire during the night, he kindled one in front. He then spread skins on the ground, and upon these he placed a blanket, one half of which he lay down upon, and the other he turned over him for a covering.
The wind was furious, and the thunder and lightning were tremendous; but, happily, not much-rain fell. Next morning, on reconnoitring the neighbourhood, he was roused by the report of a musket not far off; and, shortly afterwards, an Indian stepped out of a thicket, having a large turkey-cock slung across his shoulders. He saw Mr. Bartram, and, stepping up to him, spoke in English, bidding him good morning. He stated that he lived at an adjacent plantation, and that he was employed as a hunter. Mr. Bartram accompanied him to the house of his master, about half a mile distant, and was there received in the most polite and friendly manner imaginable. The owner of this plantation invited him to stay some days, for the purpose of resting and refreshing himself; and he immediately set his carpenters to work, to repair the damaged vessel.
Mr. Bartram spent one day with this gentleman. The house in which he resided was on an eminence, about one hundred and fifty yards from the river. On the right of it was an orangery, consisting of many hundred trees, natives of the place, and left standing when the ground about it was cleared. Those trees were large, flourishing, in bloom, and, at the same time, loaded with ripe golden fruit. On the other side was a spacious garden, occupying a regular slope of ground, down to the water; and a pleasant lawn lay between. The owner of this plantation having, with great liberality, supplied him with an abundance of ammunition and provision, Mr. Bartram departed on the ensuing morning. He again embarked on board his little vessel, and had a favourable, steady gale. The day was extremely pleasant; the shores of the river were level and shallow; and, in some places, the water was not more than eighteen inches or two feet in depth. At a little distance it appeared like a green meadow; having water-grass, and other amphibious vegetables, growing from its oozy bottom, and floating upon its surface.
Mr. Bartram kept as near the shore as possible; and he was greatly delighted with the prospect of cultivation, and the increase of human industry, which were often visible from the water. In pursuing his voyage, he sometimes slept at plantations that were near the banks of the river; but sometimes he was obliged to pitch his tent upon the shore, or to sleep under the protection of his sail. In the latter case he was, not unfrequently, disturbed at night, by the plunging and roaring of alligators, and the loud croaking of frogs; and, in the morning, by the noise of wild turkeys, hundreds of which roosted around him. During his progress he saw great numbers of alligators, some of them immensely large. He was successful in collecting seeds, and specimens of uncommon trees and plants. In some places he was astonished to see the immense magnitude to which the grape-vines grew. These were not unfrequently from nine to twelve inches in diameter: they twined round the trunks of trees, climbed to their very tops, and then spread along, from tree to tree, almost throughout the forest. The fruit, however, was small and ill-flavoured.
As Mr. Bartram was coasting along the shore, he suddenly saw before him an Indian settlement or village. It was in a fine situation, on the slope of a bank which rose gradually from the water. There were eight or ten habitations, in a row or street, fronting the water, and about fifty yards distant from it. Some of the youths of this settlement were naked, and up to their hips in water, fishing with rods and lines; whilst others, younger, were diverting themselves in shooting frogs with bows and arrows. As Mr. Bartram passed, he observed some elderly people reclining on skins, spread upon the ground, beneath the cool shade of oaks and palm-trees, that were ranged in front of the houses. These persons arose, and eyed him as he passed; but, perceiving that he proceeded without stopping, they resumed their former position.
There was an extensive orange-grove, at the upper end of the village: the trees were large, and had been carefully pruned; and the ground beneath them was clean, open, and airy. Around the village were several acres of cleared land, a considerable portion of which was planted with maize, batatas, beans, pompions, squashes, melons, and tobacco.
After leaving this village, the river became much contracted, and continued so till Mr. Bartram reached Charlotia or Rolle's Town, where it was not more than half a mile wide. Here he came to an anchor. This town was founded by Denis Rolle, Esq. and is situated on a cliff on the east side of the river.
Having obtained directions for discovering a little remote island, where the traders and their goods were secreted, he set sail again, and, in about an hour and a half, arrived at the desired place. At this island he was received with great politeness; and he was induced to continue there several months, during which he was treated with the utmost hospitality, by the agents of one of the British mercantile houses.
The numerous plains and groves in the vicinity of the island, afforded to Mr. Bartram much gratification in his botanical pursuits; and, at the termination of his residence here, he set out with a party of traders, who were about to proceed to the upper parts of the river. The traders, with their goods in a large boat, went first, and Mr. Bartram, in his little vessel, followed them. The day was pleasant, and the wind fair and moderate. In the evening they arrived at Mount Royal, a house belonging to a Mr. Kean. This place was surrounded by magnificent groves of orange-trees, oaks, palms, and magnolias; and commanded a most enchanting view of the great Lake George, about two miles distant.
Lake George is a beautiful piece of water, a dilatation of the river St. John, and about fifteen miles wide. It is ornamented with two or three fertile islands. Mr. Bartram landed, and passed the night on one of them; and he found, growing upon it, many curious flowering shrubs, a new and beautiful species of convolvulus, and some other species of plants, which he had never before seen.
A favourable gale enabled the voyagers, towards the close of the ensuing day, to enter the river at the southern extremity of the lake. Here they found a safe and pleasant harbour, in a most desirable situation. Opposite to them was a vast cypress swamp, environed by a border of grassy marshes; and, around the harbour, was a grove of oaks, palm, magnolia, and orange-trees. The bay was, in some places, almost covered with the leaves of a beautiful water-lily, the large, sweet-scented yellow flowers of which grew two or three feet above the surface of the water. A great number of fine trout were caught, by fishing, with a hook and line, near the edges of the water-lilies; and many wild turkeys and deer were seen in the vicinity of this place.
On the ensuing day the party reached a trading-house, called Spalding's upper Store, where Mr. Bartram resided for several weeks. Being afterwards desirous of continuing his travels and observations higher up the river, and, having received an invitation to visit a plantation, the property of an English gentleman, about sixty miles distant, he resolved to pursue his researches to that place. For several miles the left bank of the river had numerous islands of rich swamp land. The opposite coast was a perpendicular cliff ten or twelve feet high: this was crowned by trees and shrubs, which, in some places, rendered the scenery extremely beautiful. The straight trunks of the palm-trees were, in many instances, from sixty to ninety feet high, of a bright ash colour, and were terminated by plumes of leaves, some of them nearly fifteen feet in length.
Mr. Bartram landed, for the night, in a little bay, not far from the entrance to a small lake, another expansion of the river. Near this place there was much low and swampy land, and the islands in the river were numerous. The evening was cool and calm, and he went out in his canoe, to fish for trout. As the evening closed, alligators appeared in great numbers along the shores and in the river. Mr. Bartram states that he was witness to a combat between these dreadful animals, which inspired him with horror, especially as his little harbour was surrounded by them. In endeavouring to paddle his canoe through a line of alligators, he was pursued by several large ones; and, before he could reach the shore, he was assailed on every side. His situation became extremely precarious. Two very large alligators attacked him closely, rushing with their heads and part of their bodies above the water, roaring terribly, and, from their mouths, throwing floods of water over him. They struck their jaws together so close to his ears as almost to stun him; and he, every moment, expected to be dragged out of the boat and devoured by them. He held in his hand a large club, which he used so efficaciously, as to beat them off: he then hastened towards the shore, as the only means of preservation left. Here the water was shallow; and his ferocious opponents, some of which were twelve feet in length, returned into deeper water. After this, as Mr. Bartram was stepping out of his canoe, an alligator rushed up to him, near his feet, and, with its head and shoulders out of the water, lay there for some time. Mr. Bartram ran for his gun, and, having a heavy charge in it, he shot the animal in the head and killed him. While Mr. Bartram was employed in cleansing some fish for his supper, he raised his head, and beheld, through the clear water, another of these animals of large size, moving slowly towards him; and he stepped back, at the instant the beast was preparing to spring upon him. This excessive boldness gave him great uneasiness, as he feared he should be obliged to keep on watch through the whole night. He had made the best preparation, in his power, for passing the night, when he was roused by a tumultuous noise, which seemed to come from the harbour. On going to the water's edge he beheld a scene so astonishing, that it was some time before he could credit the evidence even of his own senses. The river, though of great width, appeared, from shore to shore, to be almost a solid bank of fish. These were of various species, and were pushing along the river, towards the little lake, pursued by alligators in such incredible numbers, and so close together, that, had the animals been harmless, Mr. Bartram imagined it might have been possible to have walked across the water upon their heads. During this extraordinary passage, thousands of fish were caught and swallowed by them. The horrid noise of their closing jaws, their plunging amid the broken banks of fish, and rising with their prey some feet above the water, the floods of water and blood rushing from their mouths, and the clouds of vapour issuing from their nostrils, were truly frightful. This scene continued, at intervals, during the whole night. After it was ended, Mr. Bartram says he found himself more reconciled to his situation than he had before been; as he was convinced that the extraordinary assemblage of alligators at this place had been owing to the annual passage of these shoals of fish; and that they were so well employed in their own element, that he had little occasion to fear they would wander from the banks for the purpose of annoying him.
It being now almost night, he returned to his tent, where he had left his fish broiling, and his kettle of rice stewing; and having, in his packages, oil, pepper, and salt, and, in place of vinegar, excellent oranges hanging in abundance over his head, he sat down and regaled himself cheerfully. Before he retired to rest, he was suddenly roused by a noise behind him, towards the land. He sprang up, seized his gun, and, going cautiously in the direction from which the sound approached, he beheld two large bears, advancing towards him. He waited till they were about thirty yards distant, when he snapped his piece at them. It flashed in the pan, but they both galloped off, and did not return. After this he passed the night without any other molestation than being occasionally awaked by the whooping of owls, the screaming of bitterns, or by wood-rats running among the leaves. When he arose in the morning there was perfect peace: very few alligators were to be seen, and these were asleep near the shore. His mind was not, however, free from alarm. He could not but entertain considerable dread lest, in pursuing his voyage up the river, he should, every evening, encounter difficulties similar to those which he had now experienced.
Having loaded his gun and re-embarked, he set sail cautiously along the shore; and was, not long afterwards, attacked by an alligator, which he beat off with his club; another passed close by his boat, having a brood of young ones, a hundred or more in number, following her, in a long train. On one part of the shore Mr. Bartram beheld a great number of hillocks, or small pyramids, in shape resembling haycocks, and ranged like an encampment. They were on a high marsh, fifteen or twenty yards from the water, and each about four feet in height. He knew them to be the nests of alligators, and now expected a furious and general attack, as he saw several large alligators swimming near them. Notwithstanding this he was determined to land and examine them. Accordingly, he ran his canoe on shore; and, having ascended a sloping bank or road which led to the place, he found that most of the nests were deserted, and thick whitish egg-shells lay broken and scattered upon the ground around them.
These nests were in the form of obtuse cones, and were constructed with mud, grass, and herbage. In the formation of them, the alligators had made a kind of floor of these substances, upon the ground; on this they had deposited a layer of eggs, and upon that a stratum of mortar, seven or eight inches in thickness, and then another layer of eggs; and, in this manner, one stratum upon another, nearly to the top. Mr. Bartram supposes that the eggs are hatched by the heat of the sun; and that the female alligator carefully watches her own nest of eggs until they are all hatched. He says it is certain that the young ones are not left to shift for themselves, for he had frequent opportunities of seeing female alligators leading about the shores their offspring, as a hen does her chickens.
After having gratified his curiosity, he continued his voyage up the river. In his progress he observed several small floating islands. The swamps on the banks of the river were, in general, three or four feet above the level of the water; and the timber upon them was large, but thinly scattered. The black mould of these swamps was covered with a succulent and tender kind of grass, which, when chewed, was sweet and agreeable to the taste, somewhat like young sugar-canes. Alligators were still numerous. Exposed, during the day, to the rays of a vertical sun, Mr. Bartram experienced great inconvenience in rowing his canoe against the stream; and, at night, he was annoyed by the stings of musquitoes, and he was obliged to be constantly on guard against the attacks of alligators. In one instance an alligator, of immense size, came up to his tent, and approached within six feet of him, when he was awakened by the screaming owl. Starting up, he seized his musket, which, during the night, he always kept under his head; and the animal, alarmed by the noise, rushed again into the water.
In many places the banks of the river were ornamented with hanging garlands of various climbing vegetables, both shrubs and plants. One of these had white flowers, each as big as a small funnel, the tube five or six inches in length, and not thicker than a tobacco-pipe. It was curious to observe the wild squash, (a species of cucurbita,) which grew upon the lofty limbs of the trees: its yellow fruit, somewhat of the size and shape of a large orange, pendant over the water. In some parts there were steep cliffs on each side of the river. During the middle of the day the weather was so intensely hot, that Mr. Bartram was obliged to seek for shelter under the shade of the trees which grew upon the banks.
He passed another lake, the eastern shores of which were adorned with dark, high forests: on the north and south were apparently endless plains and meadows, embellished with islets and promontories covered with trees. Whilst he was navigating this lake, he was exposed to the most tremendous storm of thunder and lightning that he had ever witnessed. The lofty forests bent beneath the fury of the blast, and the sturdy limbs of the trees cracked under the weight of the wind. Groves were torn up; and the spreading branches of the trees were rent asunder, and, like leaves or stubble, were whirled aloft in the air. After a while the wind and rain abated. Mr. Bartram then crossed the lake, about a mile in length, and arrived in safety at a plantation near its southern extremity. Here he found that nearly all the buildings had been overturned by the hurricane; and that a hundred acres of indigo plants, almost ripe for cutting, and several acres of sugar-canes, had been ruined.
About four miles beyond this plantation, Mr. Bartram was shown a vast fountain of hot mineral water, which issued from a ridge or bank of the river, in a great cove or bay. The water, though hot and of a disagreeable brassy and vitriolic taste, and very offensive to the smell, was perfectly transparent, and exhibited to view a prodigious number of fish, and alligators, which were lying about the bottom.
Mr. Bartram now returned, in his canoe, to the station called the Upper Store. Thence, in company with five persons who had been commissioned to make some commercial arrangements with the Indians, he set out for an Indian town called Cuscowilla. For four or five miles they travelled westward, over a level plain, which, before and on each side of them, appeared like a green meadow, thinly planted with low and spreading pine-trees. The whole surface seemed clad with grass, herbage, and low shrubs, and with many kinds of plants, which were rare and highly interesting. Here also many species of birds were seen, the plumage of some of which was extremely beautiful. Snakes, lizards, and insects were also very abundant. Beyond this plain was a hill, ornamented with a great variety of herbaceous plants and grasses, and with a magnificent grove of pines. After the pine-groves were passed, the travellers entered a district called the Sand-hills.
They encamped, for the first night, at the Half-way Pond. This is a lake, about three miles in circumference, which extends, through an apparently spacious meadow, and beneath a chain of elevated sand-hills. It is inhabited by numerous kinds of fish, by alligators, and by a kind of turtles with soft shells. The latter are so large as to weigh from twenty to thirty, and even forty pounds each. They are extremely fat and delicious; but, if eaten to excess, are unwholesome. Numerous herds of deer, and extensive flocks of turkeys, frequent the vicinity of this place.
From Half-way Pond the travellers proceeded, still westward, through the high forests of Cuscowilla. The country, for five or six miles, presented nearly the same scenery as before. After this the sand-ridges became higher, and their bases proportionally more extensive. The savannahs and ponds were larger; the summits of the ridges more gravelly; and here and there rocks, formed of a sort of concrete of sand and shells, were seen above the sand and gravel.
Having passed an extensive and fruitful orange-grove, through a pine-forest, and crossed two or three streams that were tributary to the river St. John, the travellers at length came within sight of the great and beautiful Lake of Cuscowilla. Their course now lay through a magnificent forest, about nine miles in extent, and consisting of orange-groves, overtopped by grand magnolias, palm-trees, oaks, beech, and other trees. This forest bounded one edge of the lake; and, beyond it, lay the town of Cuscowilla, the place of their destination. This place is situated on the banks of a brook, which, at a little distance, falls into the lake.
They were welcomed to the town, and conducted, by a party of young men and maidens, to the house of the chief. This stood on an eminence, and was distinguished from the other dwellings by its superior magnitude, and by having a flag hoisted, on a high staff, at one corner. The chief, attended by several old men, came to them, and shook them by their hands, or rather their arms, (a form of salutation peculiar to the American Indians,) saying at the same time, "You are come." They followed him into an apartment prepared for their reception.
The following customs are practised towards their guests, by the Indians in this part of America. The pipe being filled, it is handed round to each. After this a large bowl, containing what is called "thin drink," is brought, and is set down on a low table. In the bowl is a great wooden ladle: each person takes up in the ladle as much of the liquor as he pleases; and, after drinking until he is satisfied, he returns it into the bowl, pushing the handle towards the next person in the circle; and so it goes round.
On the present occasion, after the usual compliments had passed, the principal trader informed the Indian chief, in the presence of his council or attendants, respecting the purport of their business; and with this the chief expressed his satisfaction. When the latter was informed concerning the object of Mr. Bartram's journey, he received him with complaisance; giving him unlimited permission to travel over his country, for the purpose of collecting plants, and saluting him by the name of Pug Puggy, or "Flower-hunter."
This chief was a tall, well-formed man, very affable and cheerful, about sixty years of age. His eyes were lively and full of lustre, his countenance was manly and placid, yet ferocious; his nose aquiline, and his dress extremely simple; but his head was ornamented in the manner of the Creek Indians. He had been a great warrior, and had now, attending him as slaves, many captives, which had been taken by himself when young. They were dressed better than he, and served and waited upon him with signs of the most abject humility. The manners and customs of these Indians, who are called Alachuas, and of most of the lower Creeks or Siminoles, appear evidently tinctured with Spanish civilization. There are several Christians among them, many of whom wear little silver crucifixes, affixed to a collar round their necks, or suspended by a small chain upon their breasts.
Mr. Bartram and his party had not long been here, before the repast was brought in. This consisted of venison stewed in bear's oil, of fresh corn-cakes, milk, and a dish called homony; and the drink was honey and water, very cool and agreeable.
A few days after this some negotiations took place between the traders and the Indians, in the public square or council-house. These having terminated to the satisfaction of both parties, a banquet succeeded; the ribs and choicest fat pieces of bullocks, well barbecued, were brought into an apartment of the square: bowls and kettles of stewed flesh and broth constituted the next course; and with these was brought in a dish, made of the belly or paunch of an ox, not over-cleansed of its contents, cut and minced tolerably fine, and then made into a thin kind of soup, and seasoned with salt and aromatic herbs; but the seasoning was not quite strong enough to overpower the original taste and smell. This is a favourite dish with the Indians.
Cuscowilla is the capital of the Alachua Indians; and it, at this time, contained about thirty habitations, each of which consisted of two houses, nearly of the same size, about thirty feet in length, twelve feet wide, and twelve high. Of these, one is divided into two apartments; the cook-room, or common hall, and the lodging-room. The other house is nearly of the same dimensions, and stands about twenty yards from the dwelling-house. This building is two stories high, and is constructed in a different manner from the former. Like that, it is divided across; but the end next the dwelling-house is open on three sides, and is supported by posts or columns. It has an open loft or platform, the ascent to which is by a portable stair or ladder: this is pleasant, cool, and airy; and here the master or chief of the family retires to repose, in the hot seasons, and receives his guests or visitors. The other half of this building is closed on all sides: the lowest or ground part is a potatoe-house; and the upper story a granary, for corn and other provisions.
The town of Cuscowilla stands in an extremely pleasant situation, upon a high, swelling ridge of sand-hills, within three or four hundred yards of a large and beautiful lake, which continually washes a sandy beach, under a moderately high, sloping bank; terminated on one side by extensive forests of orange-groves, and overtopped with magnolias, palms, poplars, limes, live oaks, and other trees. The ground, between the town and the lake, is adorned by an open grove of tall pine-trees, which, standing at a considerable distance from each other, admit a delightful prospect of the sparkling waters. The lake abounds with various kinds of excellent fish and wild fowl.
The inhabitants of Cuscowilla have each a small garden attached to their dwellings, for the purpose of producing corn, beans, tobacco, and other useful articles; but the plantation which supplies them with their chief vegetable provisions, is near the great Alachua savannah, and about two miles distant. This plantation has one common enclosure, and is worked and tended by the whole community: yet every family has its particular part, marked off when planted; and this portion receives the common labour and assistance, until the corn, or other articles cultivated upon it, are ripe. Each family then gathers and deposits in its store-house its own proper share, setting apart a small gift or contribution for a public granary, which stands near the centre of the plantation.
Mr. Bartram made several excursions to places in the vicinity of Cuscowilla and the Alachua Swamp. In one of these, he came to a little clump of shrubs, where he observed several large snakes, entwined together. They were each about four feet in length, and as thick as a man's wrist. Mr. Bartram approached, and endeavoured to irritate them, but they appeared perfectly harmless. Numerous herds of cattle and deer, and many troops of horses were seen peacefully browsing on the grass of the savannah, or strolling through the groves on the surrounding heights. Large flocks of wild turkeys were also observed in the woods.
At some distance from Cuscowilla, is an Indian town called Talahasochte, which Mr. Bartram some time afterwards visited. It is delightfully situated on the elevated east bank of a river called Little St. John's. The habitations were, at this time, about thirty in number, and constructed like those of Cuscowilla; but the council-house was neater and more spacious.
The Indians of this town have large and handsome canoes, which they form out of the trunks of cypress-trees: some of them are sufficiently commodious to accommodate twenty or thirty persons. In these canoes they descend the river, on trading and hunting excursions, as far as the sea-coast, to the neighbouring islands and shores; and they sometimes even cross the Gulf of Florida to the West India Islands.
In this neighbourhood are seen many singular and unaccountable cavities. These are funnel-shaped; and some of them are from twenty to forty yards across at the rim. Their perpendicular depth is, in many instances, upwards of twenty feet.
At this time, nearly the whole of East Florida, and a great portion of West Florida, were in the possession of Indians; and these chiefly a tribe called Siminoles, an apparently contented and happy race of people, who enjoyed, in superabundance, the necessaries and the conveniences of life. With the skins of deer, bears, tigers, and wolves, together with honey, wax, and other productions of their country, this people purchased, from Europeans, clothing, equipage, and domestic utensils. They seemed to be free from want or desires: they had no enemy to dread; and, apparently, nothing to occasion disquietude, except the gradual encroachments of the white people.
Mr. Bartram returned to the trading-store, on the bank of the river St. John; and, about the end of September, he reached the place from which he had commenced his voyage.
* * * * *
We must now proceed, across the southern states, to the mouth of the Mississippi, for the purpose of tracing the course of that astonishing river, and describing the most important places in its vicinity.
Fourteen Day's Instruction.
UNITED STATES CONTINUED.
The River Mississippi.
The Mississippi has its source in about forty-six degrees thirty minutes of north latitude; and terminates in the Gulf of Mexico, at some distance below the town of New Orleans. Its length, in a direct line, exceeds one thousand seven hundred miles; and it falls into the sea, by many mouths, most of which, like those of the Nile, are too shallow to be navigable. For a considerable distance, its banks are low, marshy, and covered with reeds; and are annually overflowed, from the melting of the snows in the interior of the country. The inundation usually commences in March, and continues about three months; and the slime which it deposits on the adjacent lands, tends, in a very important degree, to fertilize the soil. This river is navigable to a great distance; but, at spring-tides, the navigation is difficult, on account of the strength of the currents, and the innumerable islands, shoals, and sand-banks, with which it is interspersed. Vessels of three hundred tons burden can ascend it as high as Natchez, four hundred miles from the sea; and those of lighter burden can pass upward, as far as the Falls of St. Anthony, in latitude forty-four degrees fifty minutes.
New Orleans, the capital of the state of Louisiana, is situated on the northern bank of the Mississippi, and is a place of great commercial importance. It was founded in the year 1717, and now contains near thirty thousand inhabitants. In 1787, it had eleven hundred houses; but, nine hundred of these having been consumed by fire, it has since been rebuilt on a regular plan, and a more enlarged scale. Most of the houses are constructed with wooden frames, raised about eight feet from the ground, and have galleries round them, and cellars under the floors: almost every house has a garden.
Louisiana having, till lately, been a French colony, the French language is still predominant at New Orleans. The appearance of the people too is French; and even the negroes, by their antics and ludicrous gestures, exhibit their previous connexion with that nation. Their general manners and habits are very relaxed. Though New Orleans is now a city belonging to the United States, the markets, shops, theatre, circus, and public ball-rooms, are open on Sundays, in the same manner as they are in the catholic countries of the old continent. Gambling-houses, too, are numerous; and the coffee-houses and the Exchange are occupied, from morning till night, by gamesters. The general stile of living is luxurious. The houses are elegantly furnished; and the ladies dress in an expensive manner.
Provisions are here of bad quality, and enormously dear. Hams and cheese, from England; potatoes, butter, and beef from Ireland, are common articles of import. The rents of houses, also, are very extravagant.
The country around New Orleans is level, rich, and healthy, and has many extensive sugar-plantations. And, for the space of five leagues below, and ten above the town, the river has been embanked, to defend the adjacent fields from those inundations of the Mississippi which take place every spring. The land, adjacent to the town, yields abundant crops of rice, Indian corn, and vegetables.
There is a regular communication, by means of steam-boats and other vessels, between New Orleans and the towns on the banks of the Mississippi, the Ohio, and other rivers, in the distant parts of North America.
The scenery of the Mississippi, to the distance of one hundred and fifty miles and upwards, from New Orleans, is very uninteresting. The country is a dead flat; so that the banks of the river, and most of the adjacent grounds, are annually overflowed. In the vicinity of Natchez it becomes more varied and pleasing.
Natchez is a town in the state of Mississippi, near the banks of the river, and about four hundred miles from its mouth. It contains about thirty dwellings, most of which are whiskey-shops, gambling, and other houses, where an excess of profligacy prevails, which is not usual in the United States.
Mr. Fearon visited Natchez in the year 1817; and in the port there were twenty-five flats, seven keels, and one steam-vessel. The flats are square covered vessels, of considerable capacity, used for carrying freight from Pittsburgh, on the Ohio, and other places below that town, down to New Orleans. Their construction is temporary and of slight materials; for they are broken up at New Orleans, as not sufficiently strong to be freighted up the river. The keel is a substantial, well-built boat, of considerable length; and, in form, somewhat resembles the floating-bath at Blackfriars' Bridge.
Observing a great many coloured people in these boats, Mr. Fearon concluded that they were emigrants, who had proceeded thus far on their route towards a settlement. The fact, however, proved to be, that fourteen of the flats were freighted with human beings intended for sale. They had been collected in the United States, by slave-dealers, and shipped, up the Mississippi, to Kentucky for a market.
There are, at Natchez, numerous stores, and three-fourths of the goods at every store are articles of British manufacture. Shopkeeping is here profitable, and mechanics are highly paid. Lotteries are very prevalent at Natchez. When Mr. Fearon was here, there was a lottery for building a Presbyterian church; and the scheme was preceded by a long address, on the advantages of religion, and the necessity of all citizens supporting Christianity, by purchasing tickets in this lottery!
The streets of Natchez were literally crammed with bales of cotton for the Liverpool market. These are carried to the water-side in carts, each drawn by two mules, horses being here little used. During Mr. Fearon's residence at this town, he twice visited the State legislature, which was composed of men who appeared any thing but legislators. Their place of meeting was in a superior kind of hay-loft; and the imitation of the forms of the British parliament were perfectly ludicrous.
Between Natchez, and the mouth of the Ohio, there is not one spot which could be recommended as a place for an Englishman to settle in. Throughout the whole of this space, the white population are the victims of demoralizing habits. The native Indians present, of course, nothing but a picture of mere savage life; and the negro slaves suffer even more misery than commonly falls to the lot of their oppressed and degraded condition. What a foul stain is it upon the American republic, professing, as they do, the principles of liberty and of equal rights, that, out of twenty states, there should be eleven in which slavery is an avowed part of the political constitution; and that, in those called free, New England excepted, the condition of blacks who are indentured, for terms of years, should practically amount to slavery!
Beyond the state of Louisiana, the Mississippi divides the Missouri territory from the territory of Mississippi; and, north of that, from the states of Tenessee and Kentucky. About the 37th degree of north latitude, and on the western bank of the river, is a town called New Madrid. This place, from the advantages of its situation, about forty-five miles from the mouth of the Ohio, may at some future time become of considerable importance. The Ohio, at the place of its junction with the Mississippi, is about a mile in width, and is navigable, for vessels of considerable burden, to a distance of more than a thousand miles.
Beyond the Ohio commences the Illinois territory. Here the general face of the country is flat; but, in some parts, the land is high and craggy. It abounds in deer, wolves, bears, squirrels, racoons, and foxes; in wild turkeys and quails; geese and ducks, partially; and hawks, buzzards, and pigeons in tolerable abundance; and the rivers contain several species of fish. In the prairies there are rattlesnakes. The woods supply grapes, pecan nuts, (similar to our walnut,) and hickory nuts. Hops, raspberries, and strawberries, here grow wild. Limestone abounds; and salt, copper, and coal have all been found in this district.
The seat of the territorial government is Kaskaski, a town which stands on a plain, near the western bank of the Mississippi, and contains about one hundred and fifty houses. This place has been settled somewhat more than a century, and its inhabitants are chiefly French. Some parts of the district of Illinois are occupied by Indians. The other inhabitants are, first, what are here termed "squatters," persons half civilized and half savage; and who, both in character and habits, are extremely wretched: second, a medley of land-jobbers, lawyers, doctors, and farmers, a portion of those who traverse this immense continent, founding settlements, and engaging in all kinds of speculation: and third, some old French settlers, who are possessed of considerable property, and who live in ease and comfort.
About seventy miles north of Kaskaski, and on the opposite side of the river, is a town or large village, called St. Louis. It stands on a rock or bank of considerable height, in a beautiful and healthy situation, and is surrounded by a country of exuberant fertility. The inhabitants of this place are chiefly employed in the fur-trade, and seldom occupy themselves in agriculture.
Narrative of a Voyage from St. Louis to the source of the Mississippi. By ZEBULON MONTGOMERY PIKE.
Major Pike, at that time a lieutenant in the American army, was employed by the government of the United States, to make a survey of the Mississippi, from the town of St. Louis, upwards, to its source. In pursuance of his instructions, he embarked, in a keel-boat, at this place, on the afternoon of Friday the 9th of August, 1805; and was accompanied by a serjeant and seventeen private soldiers of the American army.
As far as the mouth of the river Missouri, he says, the eastern shore of the Mississippi consists of a sandy soil, and is covered with timber-trees of various kinds. The western shore is, for a little distance, composed of high land, bordered by prairie or natural meadow-ground; after which bottom-land occurs, with timber similar to that on the eastern shore. The current is rapid, and, at low water, the navigation is obstructed by sand-banks.
Beyond the entrance of the Missouri, the stream is gentle, as far as the mouth of the Illinois; but there, owing to extensive sand-bars, and many islands, it becomes extremely rapid. From the Illinois to the Buffalo River, the eastern shore exhibits a series of gentle eminences; but, on the west, the land is a continued prairie. Timber is found on both sides; generally hackberry, cotton-wood, and ash. The Buffalo river enters from the west, and is about a hundred yards wide at its mouth.
On the 14th of August the voyagers passed a camp of the Sac Indians, consisting of three men, with their families. The men were employed in spearing and landing a large fish. Mr. Pike gave them a small quantity of whiskey and biscuit; and they, in return, presented him with some fish. The Sacs are a tribe of Indians which hunt on the Mississippi, and its confluent streams, from the Illinois to the river Jowa; and on the plains west of them, which border upon the Missouri. They are much dreaded by other Indians, for their propensity to deceit, and their disposition to commit injury by stratagem.
On the ensuing day, the voyagers reached the mouth of Salt river, a considerable stream, which, at high water, is navigable for at least two hundred miles. From the Illinois to this river, the western shore is either immediately bordered by beautiful cedar-cliffs, or the ridges of these cliffs may be seen at a distance. On the east the land is low, and the soil rich.
On the 16th of August they passed the house of a Frenchman, on the western side of the river. The cattle belonging to this person appeared to be in fine order, but his corn-land was in a bad state of cultivation. Three days afterwards their boat was damaged by striking against a vessel carrying timber and planks down the stream. While they were engaged in repairing it, three canoes, with Indians, passed on the opposite side of the river. The men in the canoes called out, in English, "How do you do?" wishing for an invitation to come over; but this was not given, and they proceeded on their voyage.
Beyond Salt river the western shore of the Mississippi is hilly, but the eastern side consists of lowland, timbered with hickory, oak, ash, maple, and other trees. The navigation here is easy, and the soil on both sides tolerably good.
On the 20th of August the voyagers, with great difficulty, passed the Rapids des Moines. These are eleven miles in extent; and, with successive ledges and shoals, reach from shore to shore, across the bed of the river. Mr. Pike had here an interview with four chiefs, and fifteen men of the Sac nation, accompanied by a French interpreter, and an agent who had been sent from the United States to teach them agriculture. These men assisted him in his progress up the Rapids; and, in recompense for the service, they were presented with some tobacco, knives, and whiskey.
At some distance beyond the Rapids the voyagers had a beautiful prospect, at least forty miles in extent, down the river. Their average daily progress appears to have been betwixt twenty and thirty miles.
Above the river Jowa, which is one hundred and fifty yards wide at its mouth, the shore of the Mississippi consists of high prairie, with yellow clay-banks, and, in some places, banks of red sand: the western shore also is prairie, but bounded by wood. About ten miles up the Jowa is a village of Jowa Indians. This people subsist chiefly by hunting, but they cultivate some corn-land. Their chief residence is on the small streams in the rear of the Mississippi. From the Jowa to Rock river, there are, on the west, beautiful prairies, and, in some places, rich land, with black walnut and hickory timber.
On the 28th of August the vessel was much injured in passing up a series of rapids nearly eighteen miles in extent, and, in some places, reaching from shore to shore. Four days after this they arrived in the vicinity of some extensive lead-mines, which belonged to a Frenchman named Dubuque. The only animals they had hitherto seen were a few wild turkeys and some deer.
From the lead-mines to Turkey river, the Mississippi continues nearly of the same width, and the banks, soil, and productions appear precisely similar. On the bank of the Turkey river is a village of Reynard Indians, who raise there a considerable quantity of corn. The Reynards reside in three villages on the Mississippi, two of which Mr. Pike had already past. They grow corn, beans, and melons; and they annually sell many hundred bushels of corn to the inhabitants of the United States.
On the 2d of September, Mr. Pike and some of his men landed for the purpose of shooting pigeons; but the guns were no sooner fired, than a party of Indians, who were on shore at a little distance, ran to the water, and escaped in their pirogues or canoes, with great precipitation. After this the voyagers passed the mouth of the Ouisconsin river, which enters the Mississippi in latitude 43 degrees 44 minutes, and is nearly half a mile wide. This river is an important source of communication with the great American lakes, and is the route by which all the traders of Michillimackinac convey their goods to the Mississippi.
On the 6th of September, a council was held with a party of Puant or Winebagoe Indians, and one of the Sioux chiefs. The former occupy seven villages, and are supposed to be a nation who originally emigrated from Mexico, to avoid the oppression of the Spaniards. They are reputed to be brave; but their bravery resembles the ferocity of tigers, rather than the deliberate resolution of men. They are so treacherous that, it is said, a white man should never lie down to sleep in their villages, without adopting the utmost caution to preserve himself from injury. The Sioux are a powerful nation, the dread of whom is extended over all the adjacent country. They are divided into numerous bands, headed by celebrated chiefs. Few of them cultivate land; but they chiefly live on the production of the chase, and on a kind of bread which they make from wild oats. This species of grain is here produced in such abundance, that a sufficiency for their subsistence is easily collected in the autumn, without any trouble whatever in cultivating the land.
Not long after their interview with these Indians, the voyagers reached the Prairie des Chiens. The houses of this village, about eighteen in number, are arranged in two streets, along the front of a marsh. They are chiefly built of wood; are daubed on the outside with clay, and white-washed within. The furniture in most of them is decent, and, in those of the most wealthy inhabitants, displays a considerable degree of taste. The Prairie des Chiens was first settled under the protection of the English government, in the year 1783; and derives its name from a family of Reynards, who formerly lived there, and were distinguished by the appellation of Dog Indians. It is a place of resort for Indian traders and others, who reside in the interior. Mr. Pike here engaged two interpreters to accompany him; one of whom was to perform the whole voyage, and the other to sail with him as high as the falls of St. Anthony.
On the 9th of September he had an interview with a party of Sioux Indians. When he went towards the shore to meet them, they saluted him by firing three rounds from their muskets, loaded with ball. On landing, Mr. Pike was met by the chief, and invited to his lodge. This invitation he complied with, having first stationed some of his men as guards, to protect him in case of danger. In the lodge he found a clean mat and a pillow arranged for him to sit upon; and the complimentary pipe of peace was placed before him, on a pair of small crutches. The chief sate at his right hand, and the interpreter at his left. After they had satisfied each other of their mutual good wishes, and Mr. Pike had accepted the pipe, dinner was prepared. This consisted of wild rye and venison.
Mr. Pike was afterwards conducted by the chief to a dance, the performance of which was accompanied by many curious gestures. Men and women danced indiscriminately. They were all dressed in the gayest manner imaginable. Each had, in his hand, a small skin of some kind of animal. They frequently ran up, pointed their skin, and gave a puff with their breath; on which the person blown at fell, and either appeared lifeless, or in great agony; but afterwards slowly recovered, rose, and joined in the dance. This was understood to be of a religious description; and the Indians believed that they actually puffed, into each others bodies, something which occasioned them to fall. For persons to be permitted to take a part in these dances, it was requisite that they should make valuable presents to the society, give a feast, and be admitted with great ceremony. When Mr. Pike returned to his boat, he sent for the chief, and presented him with a quantity of tobacco, four knives, half a pound of vermilion, a quart of salt, and several gallons of spirits.
At some distance beyond this place, Mr. Pike was shewn several holes, which had been dug in the ground by the Sioux Indians. These were, in general, of circular shape, and about ten feet in diameter; but some of them were in the form of half moons. When this people apprehend an attack from their enemies, or discover an enemy near them, they dig into the ground, with their knives, tomahawks, and wooden ladles; and, in an incredibly short space of time, sink holes that are sufficiently capacious to protect both themselves and their families from the balls or arrows of their foe.
Though the part of the river which the voyagers were now traversing was nearly two thousand miles distant from the sea, the width of the stream was supposed to be at least two miles.
The wet season had commenced, and rain fell, in considerable quantity almost every day. In this part of his voyage, Mr. Pike was accompanied by a Mr. Frazer and two other persons, with three birch canoes. On the 16th of September, they passed the mouth of the Sauteaux or Chippeway river, a deep and majestic stream, which has a communication, by a short passage, with the Montreal river, and, by this river, with Lake Superior. The shores of the Mississippi were here, in many places, bold and precipitous, forming a succession of high perpendicular cliffs and low valleys; and they exhibited some of the most romantic and picturesque views imaginable. But this irregular scenery was sometimes interrupted by wide and extensive plains, which brought to the minds of the voyagers the verdant lawns of civilized countries, and almost induced them to imagine themselves in the midst of a highly-cultivated plantation. The timber of this part of the country was generally birch, elm, and cotton-wood; and all the cliffs were bordered with cedars. The prevailing species of game were deer and bears.
On the 21st of September, the voyagers breakfasted at a Sioux village, on the eastern side of the river. It consisted of eleven lodges, and was situated at the head of an island, just below a ledge of rocks; but the inhabitants had all left it. About two miles beyond this village, they saw three bears, swimming over the river, but beyond the reach of gun-shot.
In a camp of Sioux, which they afterwards passed, Mr. Pike was astonished by the garrulity of the women. At the other camps the women had not opened their lips; but here they flocked around the strangers, and talked without cessation. The cause of this freedom is supposed to have been the absence of their husbands. In a spot at which the voyagers arrived this day, the Mississippi was so narrow that Mr. Pike crossed it, in a boat, with forty strokes of his oars.
From the Canoe river to the St. Croix, it becomes still narrower, and the navigation is less obstructed by islands, than below. From the Cannon river it is bounded on the east, by high ridges; but the left shore consists of low ground. The timber is generally ash and maple; except the cedars of the cliffs, the sugar-tree, and ash. Mr. Pike this day observed, on the shore, a white flag, and, on landing, he discovered it to be of silk. It was suspended over a scaffold, on which were laid four dead bodies; two enclosed between boards, and two between pieces of bark. They were wrapped in blankets, which appeared quite new; and were the bodies of two Sioux women, a child, and a relative. This is the manner in which the Sioux Indians bury such of their people as die a natural death: such as are killed, they suffer to lie unburied.
On the 23d, the voyagers arrived at the Falls of St. Anthony. These are about seventeen feet in height, and the approach to them is through rapids, which vessels have great difficulty in passing. At the foot of the falls, the voyagers unloaded their boats, which they carried up the hill, and placed and reloaded in the river above. While this process was going on, a small party of Indians, painted black, and prepared for war, appeared on the heights. They were armed with guns, bows and arrows, clubs, and spears; and some of them had cases of pistols. Mr. Pike was desirous of purchasing from them a set of bows and arrows, and one of their war-clubs, made of elk-horn, and decorated with inlaid work; but they took offence at something which occurred, and suddenly went away.
The weather was now so rainy, and the men had been so much fatigued with conveying the vessels and their lading, to the upper part of the falls, that seven of the twenty-two, who accompanied Mr. Pike, were taken ill. It is impossible for vessels of any description, or in any state of the river, to pass up these falls. The width of the river, immediately below them, is two hundred and nine yards, and above them, six hundred and twenty-seven yards. At high-water, the appearance is extremely sublime; as then, the quantity of water falling throws up a spray, which, in clear weather, reflects, from some positions, the colours of the rainbow; and, when the sky is overcast, this spray covers the falls in gloom and chaotic majesty.
On Tuesday, the 1st of October, Mr. Pike and his men again embarked, to proceed on their voyage above the falls. At first the river was sufficiently deep for the easy passage of the boats; but, at the distance of about four miles, the shoals commenced, and there was much difficulty in proceeding. Nearly from the Falls of St. Anthony to the Rum river, the Mississippi is a continued chain of rapids, with eddies, formed by winding channels. The land, on both sides, consists of Prairie, with scarcely any timber, except small groves of scrubby oaks. Not far from this spot is Red Cedar lake, the grounds in the vicinity of which are considered, by the Indians, extremely valuable for hunting.
In some parts of the river it was requisite for the men to wade for many successive hours, in order to force the boats over the shoals, and draw them through the rapids. The weather was now cold and rainy. On the 10th of October, in the course of four miles, the voyagers passed a cluster of more than twenty islands, which Mr. Pike called Beaver islands, from numerous dams and paths which had been made by these animals upon them. The passage up the river was still much impeded by rocks and shoals.
About the beginning of October, the voyagers began to look out for a station in which they could pass the winter. Mr. Pike was determined, if possible, to reach the Corbeau or Raven river, the highest point that had ever been reached by traders, in bark canoes. But he was not able to accomplish his intention; for, on the seventeenth, many of his men were so benumbed with cold, that their limbs became useless, and others were laid up with illness. He consequently fixed on a station near Pine Creek, where the borders of the Mississippi consisted of prairie, with groves of pine at the edge of the banks; and, in some places, with oak, ash, maple, and lime-trees. The banks of Lake Clear, a small and beautiful lake, about three miles distant, are the resort of immense herds of elks and buffaloes; and Clear river, which unites this lake with the Mississippi, is a delightful little stream, about eighty yards wide.
On the seventeenth, snow fell during the whole day: Mr. Pike killed four bears, and his hunter three deer. Several ensuing days were occupied in cutting down trees, for the formation of winter-huts; and in constructing the huts, and forming a fence round them. When the latter was completed, the two boats were hauled out of the water, and turned over, on each side of the gateways, so as to form a defence against any Indians who might be inclined to attack the encampment.
At this place, and in its vicinity, the voyagers continued several weeks, during which they suffered great hardships. Much of their time was occupied in hunting. They occasionally saw large herds of elks, some of them of immense size; the horns of the bucks measuring four feet and upwards in width. Many droves of buffaloes were also seen, and deer of various kinds: bears, wolves, racoons, and otters, were occasionally shot.
On the 7th of November the Mississippi was nearly filled with snow; and, on the land, the snow was knee deep. Before the end of the month, the river was frozen over.
During his residence at this place, Mr. Pike did not see many Indians. On one occasion he visited the tent or hut of an Indian chief, whom he found sitting amidst his children, and grand-children, ten in number. The hut was constructed of rushes, platted into mats.
In the month of December, Mr. Pike and some of his men proceeded, in sledges, up the Mississippi. On the twenty-fourth, they reached Corbeau river; which, at its mouth, was nearly as wide as the Mississippi. For a considerable distance, the Mississippi was interrupted by a continued succession of rapids, shoals, and falls. One of the latter, called the Falls of the Painted Rock, formed the third important obstacle to the navigation of the river, which Mr. Pike had encountered. Most of the timber, now observed near the banks, consisted of pine-trees.
On the thirty-first, Mr. Pike passed Pine river. For many miles, the Mississippi had been much narrower, and more free from islands, than in the lower parts of the stream. The shores, in general, presented a dreary prospect of high barren knobs, covered with dead and fallen pine-timber; and most of the adjacent country was interspersed with small lakes. Deer of various kinds, were plentiful; but no buffaloes, nor elks, had been seen.
Near the mouth of the Pine river, an encampment of Chippeway Indians was observed. This had been occupied in the summer, but it was now vacant. By certain marks which had been left, the voyagers understood that these Indians had marched a party of fifty warriors against the Sioux, and had killed four men and four women, who were here represented by figures carved in wood. The figures of the men were painted, and put into the ground, to the middle; and, by their sides, were four painted poles, sharpened at the end, to represent the women. Near this spot were poles with deer-skins, plumes, silk-handkerchiefs, &c. and a circular hoop of cedar, with something attached to it which resembled a scalp.
Beyond this place, Mr. Pike observed, on the bank of the river, six elegant bark-canoes, which had been laid up by the Chippeways, and a camp, which appeared to have been evacuated about ten days before. After having endured considerable hardship and much fatigue for some weeks longer, he accomplished the object of his expedition, by arriving, on the 1st of February, at Leech Lake, from which issues the main source of the Mississippi. He crossed this lake, (about twelve miles in width,) to an English fort, an establishment belonging to the North West Company, and was there received, with great hospitality, by a Mr. Hugh Mac Gillis. His men reached the fort on the sixth; but, in traversing the lake, some of them had their ears, some their noses, and others their chins frozen.
Near this place, Mr. Pike effected some arrangements with the Indians, which were considered advantageous to the American government; and, not long afterwards, having examined the adjacent country, as well as the severity of the weather would permit, he set out on his return, accompanied by a deputation of Indian chiefs. The river still continued frozen, and the party travelled chiefly in sledges, drawn by dogs. On the 5th of March, they again reached the encampment near Pine Creek.
About a fortnight after this, Mr. Pike visited a plantation of sugar maple-trees, at a little distance from the creek, one of the finest he had ever seen. He was conducted to the lodge of the chief, who received him in a truly patriarchal style. This person assisted him in taking off his clothes, conducted him to the best part of his lodge, and offered him dry clothes. He then presented him with syrup of the maple-tree, to drink, and asked whether he preferred eating beaver, swan, elk, or deer? Preference being given to the first, a large kettle was filled with beavers' flesh, for the purpose of its being made into soup. This was afterwards served up; and when the repast was ended, Mr. Pike visited other lodges, at each of which he was presented with something to eat. He continued here all night; and, on the ensuing day, having purchased two baskets filled with sugar, he departed, and returned to his camp.