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bine thousand miles before they were to see it again. Add to this, all the lateral excursions and traverses made in hunting, and in the examination, which they prosecuted with a most meritorious and indefatigable industry, of the country to some distance along many of the rivers which fall into the Missouri. It may fairly be assumed as certain, that a very large proportion of this enormous space had never before been marked with the footsteps, nor beheld by the eyes of any mortal, belonging to the civilized tribes of mankind. . ..
Had it been possible for a man of philosophic and imaginative spirit, to accompany such an expedition, in such a manner as to have his perceptions and reflections uninterrupted by its bustle, and by the character of the adventurers,—rather we should say, had it been possible for such a man to travel alone, he would have felt a certain mysterious and solemn impression in beholding vast regions which no reflective being in a human form had looked upon since the beginning of time. What an originality of expression, in what Nature would have to eay for the first time to a being that could comprehend her! It would have seemed as if all those dictates, those mysterious notices, those sublime illusions, those monitions of the shortness of human life, those intimations of a Deity, which there had not been a succession of perceptive intelligences to receive, had been reserved to come with inconceivable augmentation of emphasis on him. How every stream, and rock, and mountain, would seem charged with the accumulated significance of thousands of years!
Or would he rather, with pensive and humbling emotion, feel as if man were unnecessary and of no consequence in these vast regions; as it the immensity of scene rendered him contemptible in his littleness; as if the majesty of Nature repelled him from all communion, preferring the gloom of an eternal solitude, scarcely disturbed by wild beasts and a few wild men, to the intrusive impertinence of research and admiration; as if the grand operation of the elements had no relation to his concerns; as if, in short, the sublimities of nature had an economy so entirely their own, that the annihilation of him and of all his race, would be a circumstance infinitely indifferent to it?
It is now in vain to regret, that the first bold intrusion on a region veiled from the inspection of civilized man ever since the creation, could not have been accompanied with, or preceded by a spirit of this refined temperament. We must be content t» hope that some time or other, long before these regions shall have lost their striking originality of character, in roads, farms, manufactories, and all the familiar aspects of an appropriated, divided, settled, and cultivated country, there will be found some adventurers of poetic genius and profound thought, to take the full impression of the loneliness, the vastness, the unsubdued, unviolatcd appearance, and the grandeur in parts, of this western world. And, as to many wide tracts, there will be time enough; for centuries must pass away before some of them can be occupied or familiarly traversed by men of the civilized race.
Several of the objects and localities in the line of this expedition, are such as can suffer no modification of their character, no diminution of their power of exciting awe and admiration, by any thing that man can ever do. They will remain ever dissociated from every thing that may approach them, or intrude upon them; and maintain the alien sublimity, if we may so express it, of Nature, though the ' busy hum' of towns, the bustle of traffic, and all the littlenesses and vulgarities of a numerous population, may occupy their precincts.
During the course of these perhaps rather fantastic observations, we have not forgotten that even the most visionary traveller, would be far enough from being visionary always. We have been imagining his impressions and musings such as they might be, could we suppose him borne calmly and somewhat rapidly through the air, so much at his ease, as to the corporeal part of Iris being, that his mind could give itself, in full sensibility, and unrepressed action, to the elements, and phenomena, and influences, of the vast wilderness, and have such facility of loco-motion, that whenever his feelings were sinking into torpor under the influence of a widely-extended monotony of scene, he could be carried forward to a varied locality. But let the travelling sensitive enthusiast have to creep slowly on, for many days or weeks, through a dead sameness of scene, never-ceasing sand-bars in the rivers, and on either side low insignificant hills, or bare wide plains; with coarsely furnished viands; with rude accommodations for indulging, as the shadows of his waking visions, the dreams of the night; with the rigours of winter and the mosquitos of summer;—in short, let him traverse this immensity of desert in any manner in which it will actually be passable till it shall in a considerable degree have lost its desert character, and therefore lost precisely that of which he wishes to take the strongest impression;—and it would only be at auspicious moments, at intervals possibly rather brief and far asunder, that he would feel his mind enchanted into reveries and abstractions, into exquisite perceptions, deep thoughts, or lofty imaginations. However reluctant or indignant he might be to yield to the power of circumstances and the weight of the material part of his composition, he would be doomed too often to feel himself reduced to a state not so very proudly superior in point of mental power to that of the rough hunter* accompanying him, and perhaps very much below it in point of fortitude, cheerfulness, and active vigour.
But it is more than time to quit this unsubstantial ground, and proceed with the hardy and indefatigable adventurers, who accomplished an enterprise very far beyond the ability of any band of philosophers, poets, and artists, that could have been selected from all mankind.
The party set out from near St. Louis, May the 14th, 1804, in a batteau or barge, and two perioques or open boats.
'They consisted of nine young men from Kentucky, fourteen soldiers of the United States army who volunteered their services, two French watermen, an interpreter and hunter, and a black servant belonging to Captain Clarke—all these, except the last, were enlisted to serve as privates during the expedition, and three sergeants were appointed from among them by the captains. In addition to these were engaged a corporal and six soldiers, and nine watermen, to accompany the expedition as far as the Mandan nation, in order to assist in carrying the stores, or repelling an attack, which was most to be apprehended between Wood river and that tribe.'
This last mentioned party of soldiers, with a few watermen, returned with the barge, from the Mandan fort, the following spring, at the time that the main body set forward thence in prosecution of the undertaking. To reach that station against the time of its becoming necessary to take up a winter encampment, required the incessant well-combined exertions of as active, and adroit, and hardy, and courageous a band of men, as ever, probably, adventured together, on land or on water. The chief of their difficulties were those put in the way by nature; the never-ending toil of making their way against the current, which often compelled them to use the towline, in which service the men had sometimes to go considerable lengths up to the middle in water; the infinite series of accumulations of sand, lying in all manner of positions, occasioning doubtfulness, and intricacy of channel, great shifting and tediousness of passage, and sometimes formidable rapids, especially when combined with projections of rocks or banks, or sudden bends of the course of the river. Add to this, that at some stations of the route, 'game,' as they call it, that is, every kind, and shape, and size of animal that could be eaten, was scarce, or otherwise difficult of attainment, though the sportsmen of the party appear to have been infallible shots. One species, besides, of this game, was of a temper to make the ' sport' a more serious thing than so gay a name would ordinarily import. Very high entertainment, however, is afforded to the readers, by what was a considerably grave matter to the hunters, for none of the incidents are more striking, or exhibit more critical situations, than some of the rencounters with the brown and the white bears. One or two of these descriptions we shall transcribe in their proper places. •
It might be surmised, that there would be very considerable hazard from the human wild animals, to so small a party traversing the domains of so many of their tribes, some of them altogether unknown, and some of them, and those the strongest tribes, known to be jealous and unfriendly. At some of the stages there were some bad omens, and sounds of menace, which imposed a necessity of great caution, and of assuming as much as possible the attitude and language of defiance; and this, together with the real and formidable efficiency of a troop so accoutred and so courageous for action, and carrying so conspicuously the marks of their commission from a power which all but the remotest tribes have learned to respect and fear, had the effect of securing a complete impunity to these thirty or forty men, wandering for years among so many savages. Some of the tribes were quite friendly and hospitable; others betrayed indications of what they would have beea •willing to do, had they dared. The sample presented, by this expedition, to them all, of a nation which is in an in•vincible progress to occupy the Continent to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, will have very powerfully tended to convince them of the fruitlessness and danger of any thing like active hostility against the people, whom some of these men of the desert have begun to denominate, as Pike has told us, the 'white Indians,' a denomination by which these proud Aborigines have acknowledged the rival valour of the intrusive nation. We should think, too, that a very considerable impression must have been made on them, by the general conduct of this expedition, in favour of the equitableness, the settled, uncapricious rules of action, of the people they perceive to be growing into the master-tribe of America,—if they believe that the approaching and invading State will, or by the nature of the case can, treat them as fairly in every transaction, as it •was certainly the best policy, as well as the merit, of this small detachment to do.
The first tribe of consequence to whose territories the party advanced, were the Osages, whose encampments they reached after about a fortnight's contest with the gigantic stream; a sufficient length of time to give them a few little specimens and hints of the nature of the long warfare. It may be worth while to extract one which was to be followed by innumerable similar ones.
* We ascended a very difficult rapid, called the Devil's Race Ground, where the current sets for half a mile against some projecting rocks on the South side. We were less fortunate in attempting ft second place of equal difficulty. Passing near the Southern shore, the bank fell in so fast, as to oblige us to cross the river instantly, between the Northern side and a sand-bar, which is constantly moving and banking with the violence of the current. T'he boat stuck on it, and would have upset immediately, if the men had not jumped into the water and held her till the sand washed from under her.'
We may here observe, once for all, that the whole narrative is eminently free from exaggeration of language. There is no apparent disposition to magnify dangers, labours, exploits, or spectacles. A great number of things are passed with a very slight notice, as perfectly ordinary matters, which one of our English tourists would not easily have become convinced ha was not to relate at great length, with great aggravation of language, as memorable and important incidents.
The Osages are twelve or thirteen hundred warriors. In person they are among the largest and best formed Indians, and are said to possess fine military capacities; but residing as they do in villages, and having made considerable 'advance in 'agriculture, they seem less addicted to war than their northern 'neighbours.' Their complacent adherence to the belief, as here stated, concerning their origin, is an illustration of the omnipotence of self-love: they think never the worse of themselves from being all descended from a snail.
'According to universal belief, the founder of the nation was a snail, passing a quiet existence along the banks of the Osage, till a high flood swept him down to the Missouri, and left him exposed on the shore. The heat of the sun at length ripened him into a man, but with the change of his nature he had not forgotten his native seats on the Osage, towards which he immediately bent his way. He was however soon overtaken by hunger and fatigue, when happily the Great Spirit appeared, and giving him a bow and arrow, shewed him how to kill and cook deer, and cover himself with the •kin. He then proceeded to his original residence; but as he approached the river, he was met by a beaver, who inquired haughtily who he was, and by what authority he came to disturb his possession. The Osage answered that the river was his own, for he had once lived on its borders. As they stood disputing, the daughter of the beaver came, and having by her entreaties reconciled her father to this young stranger, it was proposed that the Osage should marry the young beaver, and share with her family the enjoyment of the river. The Osage readily consented, and from this happy union, there soon came the village and the nation of the Wasbasha, or Osages, who have ever since preserved a pious reverence for their ancestors, abstaining from the chace of the beaver, because in killing that animal they killed the brother of the Osage. Of late years, however, since the trade with the whites has rendered beaver skins more valuable, the sanctity of these maternal relatives has visibly diminished, and the poor animals have nearly lost all the privileges of kindred.'