Again, the long account of the beaver is condensed from the same source; and the same is true of Carver's accounts of the moose and the caribou, the bear, the porcupine, and other animals.

After these specimens of the manner in which the writer of Carver's Travels drew upon different sources, we need not be surprised to discover that Carver's "A short Vocabulary of the Chipéway Language " is almost entirely copied from La Hontan's “ Dictionary of the Algonkin Language.” The copying, however, would seem to have been done by one ignorant of the language. For example, the word “dart” immediately follows “ dance” in both lists; but Carver gives, as the equivalent of “ dart”, “Sheshikwee”, which in La Hontan is the name of a particular kind of dance. In Carver's text, however (p. 385), “Chichicoué” is a medicine-man's rattle. Again La Hontan for “hart” gives “Micheoue”, which Carver gives for “heart”. In regard to the structure of the language Carver is equally beholden to La Hontan's account of the Algonkin:

LA HONTAN. The Algonkin Language has neither Tone nor Accent, nor superfluous dead Letters; so that 'tis as easy to pronounce it as to write it. 'Tis not copious, no more than the other Languages of America."

CARVER. The Chipéway tongue is not incumbered with any unnecessary tones or accents, neither are there any words in it that are superfluous; it is also easy to pronounce, and much more copious than any other Indian language.”

The writer of Carver's Travels apparently thought it safe enough to give an Algonquin vocabulary for one of the “ Chipéway” language; for he regards the two names as interchangeable, using the phrase, “ the Chipéways or Algonkins ” (p. 414).'

The examples that have been given, a few out of many that might be cited, are sufficient to show that the allegations of Greenhow and the conjectures of Wolcott and Schoolcraft were fully justified, and that the second part of Carver's Travels is essentially a compilation from La Hontan, Charlevoix, Adair, and other sources which I have not yet identified. That a traveller should borrow some descriptions from preceding travellers does not necessarily discredit his book, but in this case the borrowings are so extensive and of such a character that one cannot help suspecting that nearly evei ything was borrowed.

La Hontan, New Voyages, H. 290. 2 Carver's Travels, 416.

3 The Chippewa belongs to the Algonquin linguistic stock, but in Carver's time Algonquin and Chippewa were names of languages apparently as different as Dutch and German. See the parallel column vocabularies in Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, by J. Long (London, 1791), 196 et seqq.

Turning now to the first part or the narrative proper of Carver's Travels, is it a genuine record of experience and did he write it, or was it written by another from his memoranda or oral recollections ? So far as I can judge by literary evidence, I should reply that Carver was the source rather than the author of the narrative. The style of the first part is fluent literary English, and apparently is from the same hand as the descriptive matter in the second part. To pronounce upon the worth of this part of the book first-hand intimate knowledge of the field of observation is required. This qualification William H. Keating, the scholarly and painstaking geologist and historian of Long's expedition to the source of St. Peter's River in 1823, possessed in a high degree. The members of Long's expedition naturally gave Carver's account a more critical scrutiny under more favorable conditions than has been the case since or is likely to be in the future. Their general judgment is unfavorable. In general it is remarked: “No gentleman of the party would be willing to ascribe to Carver a scrupulous adherence to truth, (personal observation having convinced them all of the many misrepresentations contained in his work.)” Again, Hennepin estimated the height of the Falls of St. Anthony at fifty or sixty feet.

This height is, by Carver, reduced to about thirty feet; his strictures upon Hennepin, whom he taxes with exaggeration, might with great propriety be retorted upon him, and we feel strongly inclined to say of him, as he said of his predecessor, “the good father, I fear, too often had no other foundation for his accounts than report, or at least a slight inspection."

In regard to the St. Peter's River and to the customs of the Sioux Indians, as to which Carver is still referred to as an important authority, the following comments are selected :

Carver is the only traveller who states that he visited this river, merely from motives of curiosity; but a close perusal of his book, has satisfied us that he professes too much. He asserts that he “proceeded upon the river about two hundred miles, to the country of the Naudowessies of the plains, which lies a little above the forks formed by the Verd and Red Marble rivers." He states that he resided five months

i The late Dr. Elliott Coues in the notes to his The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike (New York, 1895) repeatedly quotes Carver and expresses a favorable opinion of his narrative. He does not refer, however, to part 11.

2 Keating, Long's Expedition (Philadelphia, 1824), I. 277.

3 Ibid., 297-298. The actual height as measured by Pike and by Long was sixteen and one-half feet.

*Cf. the bibliography to Livingston Farrand, Basis of American History (New York, 1904), 282–283.

[ocr errors]

among the Naudowessies, and that he acquired their language perfectly. We are inclined to doubt this; we believe that he ascended the Mississippi to the Falls of St. Anthony, that he saw the St. Peter, and that he may even perhaps have entered it; but had he resided five months in the country, and become acquainted with their language, it is not probable that he would have uniformly applied to them the term of Naudowessies, and omitted calling them the Dacota Indians, as they style themselves. . . . In his account of the river St. Peter, Carver attributes to it a breadth of nearly one hundred yards for two hundred miles, whereas at the distance of one hundred and thirty miles it was but seventy yards wide, and was found to be rapidly diminishing in size. He also ascribes to it “a great depth,” which is not the case at any distance above its mouth.

... It is scarcely possible that if Carver had ascended the St. Peter two hundred miles, he would have reported without contradicting them, the exaggerated accounts of the great extent of this river, or attributed to it a rise near the Shining, (Rocky,) Mountains; but besides these inaccuracies, some of which may perhaps be partly accounted for by his having seen the river at a time when it was unusually high, and when a mere brook may have been so much swollen as to be mistaken for a small branch of the river, yet we cannot place any confidence in him on account of the many misrepresentations contained in his work. Almost all that he relates as peculiar to the Naudowessies, is found to apply to the Sauks, or some other nation of Algonquin origin. Thus on reading to Renville, Dickson, (the son of the late Colonel Dickson) and to several other of the half-Indian interpreters whom we saw on the St. Peter, that part of chapter 12th of his work, in which he relates that “the Naudowessies have a singular method of celebrating their marriages which seems to bear no resemblance to those made use of by any other nations that he passed through," these men all exclaimed that it was fabulous, that such a practice had never prevailed among any of the Dacotas, though they believed it to be in use with some of the Algonquin tribes. The practice of having a totem or family distinction, exists, as we have already stated, among the Sauks, etc. but it is quite unknown to the Sioux, to whom it is attributed by this writer. It is, we believe, clearly proved at present, that the land which he claimed by virtue of a grant from the Indians, was never conveyed to him by them. ... When chapter 5th of Carver's work [on Indian government] was read to Renville and the other men, they denied the truth of its contents; but immediately recollected the designs of a snake and a tortoise, which were affixed to the treaty, no doubt to make it tally with the account of their family distinctions contained in that chapter of his travels. His vocabulary appears certainly to have been taken from the Dacota language; it may have been obtained from the Indians along the banks of the Mississippi, but was more probably copied from some former traveller, for a reference to old works will prove that Carver derived much of his information from them, though no credit is given to their authors for it.'

It is clear from the evidence here presented that the Travels of Jonathan Carver can no longer be ranked as an authentic record of the observations of the supposed author. Schoolcraft's conjectures as to the origin of the book, supported as they are by Wolcott's early testimony, probably give us the substantial facts. I may venture the conjecture that in its present form the Travels are the work of the editor, Dr. John Coakley Lettsom, who was a voluminous and facile writer and the charitable friend of Carver. A comparison of the style of the Travels with Dr. Lettsom's other works might settle the question, but they have not been accessible to me. This conjecture is in some measure supported by the following from Nichols's contemporary sketch of Lettsom:

1 Keating, Long's Expedition, I. 323–325.

To the publications before mentioned may be added, the Travels of the unfortunate Captain Carver, of which Dr. Lettsom was not only the Editor, and wrote the Life, but was at the expence of the publication, the benefits of which he appropriated to the amiable afflicted widow and fatherless offspring of that brave Officer; supplying the forlorn family, besides this, with the means of every comfort that humanity and friendship could administer, not only till the profits of the book could come round, but as long after as was necessary to their accommodation.'

If my conjecture should be shown to be a fact, we should have a curious instance of vicarious plagiarism producing a greater literary reputation for the supposed author than the real author acquired by his other works or was attained by any of the works from which he drew his material. In any case, Carver's Travels must now take its place in literary history beside Benzoni's History of the New World and The Book of Sir John Mandeville.?


1 John Nichols, Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century (London, 1817), II. 680.

2 On Benzoni's History of the New World, cf. Marco Allegri's critique in the Raccolta Colombiana (Rome, 1892–1896), pt. 5, vol. 3, 137–154, summarized by the writer in Larned, Literature of American History, no. 763. On Sir John Mandeville, the article in the Encyclopædia Britannica gives the essentials.

[ocr errors]


The rise of the new West' was the most significant fact in American history in the years immediately following the War of 1812. Ever since the beginnings of settlement on the Atlantic coast a frontier of settlement had advanced, cutting into the forest, pushing back the Indian, and steadily widening the area of settlement and civilization in its rear. There had been a West even in early colonial days; but then it lay close to the coast. By the middle of the eighteenth century the West was to be found beyond tide-water, passing toward the Allegheny mountains. When this barrier was crossed and the lands on the other side of the mountains were won, in the days of the Revolution, a new and greater West, more influential on the nation's destiny, was created. The men of the “Western Waters ” or the “Western World”, as they loved to call themselves, developed under conditions of separation from the older settlements and from Europe. The lands, practically free, in this vast area not only attracted the settler, but furnished opportunity for all men to hew out their own careers. The wilderness ever opened a gate of escape to the poor, the discontented, and the oppressed. If social conditions tended to crystallize in the East, beyond the Alleghenies there was freedom. Grappling with new problems, under these conditions, the society that spread into this region developed inventiveness and resourcefulness; the restraints of custom were broken, and new activities, new lines of growth, new institutions were produced. Mr. Bryce has well declared that “the West is the most American part of America. . . . What Europe is to Asia, what England is to the rest of Europe, what America is to England, that the Western States and Territories are to the Atlantic States.” The American spirit—the traits that have come to be recognized as the most characteristic—was developed in the new

This paper deals with conditions explanatory of western action, not with events. For a fuller view, see the author's Rise of the New West, in the American Nation Series (in press).

2 F. J. Turner, “Significance of the Frontier in American History," in the Annual Report of the American Historical Association for 1893, pp. 199–227, also in Fifth Yearbook of National Herbart Society; id., “ Problem of the West," in Atlantic Monthly, LXXVIII. 289. 3 American Commonwealth (ed. 1895), II. 830.

( 303 )

« ForrigeFortsett »