Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

He was not, he thinks, more than fifteen, when his skilful use of the rifle in the chace, obtained for him the name of the Hunter. His Indian sister would sometimes, when they were by themselves, make particular inquiries concerning his people, which of course he was unable to satisfy ; but they led to a train of new reflections in his mind. On coming in contact with the Traders, he attracted their particular notice; and endeavours were made to induce him to visit the white people. But, after some consideration, the prejudices which the Indians had instilled into his youthful mind against the Whites, prevailed over the intense curiosity excited by the representations of the Traders. During a visit to a village of the Grand Osages, he saw, among other whites, a clergyman, who preached several times to the Indians, through an interpreter. The Indians treated him with great respect, and listened to his discourses with profound attention ; ' but could not,' adds our Author,' as I heard them observe, comprehend the doc* trines which he wished to inculcate. The politeness and deference of an Indian auditory, he thinks, have sometimes been mistaken by the missionaries, for conviction. In the following, autumn, Hunter was engaged in a skirmish with a party of wandering Pawnees, and took a scalp ; his first and last essay

of the kind.' Some time after, he made one of a party of thirty-seven hunters, who started on an exploring and hunting expedition up the Arkansas. The account of this adventurous excursion, is one of the most interesting portions of the narrative. They ascended the Platte river nearly to its source among the Rocky Mountains; and their curiosity being stimulated by the account given of the great hills of the West, by an old Indian whom they met with, they resolved on crossing the mountain barrier. They were viewed at first with great suspicion and distrust by the tribes they encountered; but, as soon as the motives of their excursion were ascertained, and the remoteness of their hunting-grounds, they were as uniformly received with kindness and hospitality. With some of them, the party were able to hold talks. Although their respective languages were found very dissimilar from the Kansas and Osage dialects, a few words were, in two or three instances, found to be precisely the same, and others had some similarity. With some of the tribes who resided high up the river, or among the mountains, they were obliged to communicate wholly by signs. These are described as generally well-made, robust, and peaceably disposed, not very cleanly or well provided, and apparently the remnants of once powerful nations. The complexion of our hero drew upon him the particular attention of the squaws. The Indians beyond the last range of Vol. XX. N. S.

0

monntains were found exceedingly filthy and poor, subsisting chiefly on fish, roots, and berries, the soil being extremely sterile : they have a few horses and many dogs, holding the latter in much the higher estimation, and speak a singular, and, to the exploring party, wholly unintelligible dialect. Game was found every where scarce, fish being the chief dependence of the natives. The tribes were all at peace with each other, and seemed not to possess the warlike character of the Missouri and Mississippi Indians; a circumstance partly accounted for by their different mode of life and means of subsistence. Escorted from tribe to tribe by some or other of these friendly natives, and occasionally assisted with the use of their canoes or rafts, the party continued their route, sometimes over barren prairies or hills, sometimes through woods, till they arrived at the Pacific Ocean. Here,' says Hunter,' the sur• prize and astonishment of our whole party was indescribably

great.

• The unbounded view of waters, the incessant and tremendous dashing of the waves along the shore, accompanied with a noise resembling the roar of loud and distant thunder, filled our minds with the most sublime and awful sensations, and fixed on them as immutable truths the tradition we had received from our old men, that the great waters divide the residence of the Great Spirit from the temporary abodes of his red children. We here contemplated in silent dread, the immense difficulties over which we should be obliged to triumph after death, before we could arrive at those delightful hunt. ing-grounds, which are unalterably destined for such only as do good, and love the Great Spirit. We looked in vain for the stranded and shattered canoes of those who had done wickedly. We could see none, and we were led to hope that they were few in number. We offered up our devotions, or I might rather say, our minds were serious, and our devotions continued, all the time we were in this country; for we had ever been taught to believe, that the Great Spirit resided on the western side of the Rocky Mountains, and this idea continued throughout the journey, notwithstanding the more specific water boundary assigned to him by our traditionary dogmas.' p.69.

They arrived at the ocean to the South of Columbia river, and coasted further southwardly to a small inlet, around which were found the scattered huts of another tribe of ichthyophagite Indians, small in stature, filthy in their habits, and differing from the Missouri Indians in being wholly regardless of the incontinence of their squaws. Wisely determining not to risk the passage of the Rocky Mountains in the winter, our adventurers encamped at their base, near a spring, of temperature sufficiently high to have cooked food, where they amused and .supported themselves during the hard weather, by means of their rifles and their bows. The game consisted of elk, blacktailed deer, a species of mountain goat, wild turkies, and pheasants, so that they were in general well supplied, and passed a merry Christmas; only they had occasional visits from somewhat unwelcome intruders, consisting of the white and brown bears, panthers, and wolves, who, attracted by the scent of their kitchen and Jarder, prowled round their camp. At the breaking up of the winter, all the party visited the spring from which they had procured their supplies of water; and, according to the constant practice of the Osages, Kansas, and other western tribes, on striking their encampments, offered

up

their orisons to the Great Spirit for having preserved them in health and safety, and supplied their wants. They suffered much from the intense cold in re-crossing the mountains ; but, after surmounting a variety of difficulties and perils, they at length found their way home, where the Osages, who had looked upon them as lost, greeted them with tumultuous joy, as if they had returned from victory.

Our Author had peremptorily rejected several overtures made to him by the white traders, to accompany them back to their settlements, when the incident occurred, which induced him violently to snap asunder for ever the ties which had hitherto attached him to his Indian connexions. He had joined a hunting party in an excursion up the Brushy Fork, which falls into the Arkansas, and six of the party had visited the main encampment of a Colonel Watkins, where they were unfortunately permitted to barter their peltries for too much whiskey. They returned infuriated with the liquor, having, on their way back, plundered and massacred a French trader; and distributing the poisonous spirit among the rest of the hunters, they soon wrought them up to the same pitch of frantic and bloodthirsty excitement as themselves. It was determined to spoil and exterminate the whole of Watkins's party. Hunter alone, retaining the possession of his reason, felt the most acute regret and horror at these proceedings; but his life depended on his dissimulating his sentiments. From the first proposal of the plan, he never hesitated as to the course which it became him to pursue. At his own solicitation, he was entrusted with the post of sentinel; and when the Indians had retired to rest under the stupefying influence of the whiskey, he silently removed all the fints from the guns, emptied the primings, and taking his rifle and other equipments, mounted the best horse that had been stolen on the preceding day, made his escape, and gave the alarm to Watkins and his party, whose lives he thus undoubtedly saved. To return to the Osages, was now impossible; yet, nothing could induce him to remain with the white party. Having received some valuable presents from Col. Watkins, he set forth alone in a northward direction

p. 129.

towards White River. He passed several moons,' as a solitary rover, but eventually joined a party of white hunters; and by degrees, and through a concurrence of circumstances, he was at length reconciled to the idea of remaining among

the Whites. He acquired a rudimental knowledge of the English language in a respectable school at Cape Girardeau, and subsequently prosecuted his studies, during the intervals between the trading seasons, so as to make the whole period of his: education amount to about two years and a half.

• For some time after I entered school,' he tells us, “I experienced great difficulty in learning the pronunciation and meaning of words; this, however, being once partially surmounted, my progress was easy, till I could read, so as to understand all the common school books that were placed in my hands. During the recess of my school employments, I seldom went any where without a book. I had

to some respectable libraries, and became literally infatuated with reading. My judgement was so much confused by the multiplicity of new ideas that crowded upon my undisciplined mind, that I hardly knew how to discriminate between truth and fable. This difficulty, however, wore off with the novelty, and I gradually recovered, with the explanatory assistance of my associates, the proper condition of mind to pursue my studies.'

We know not how far the volume is indebted for its literary respectability to the aforementioned Mr. Edward Clark; but it certainly bears the marks of extraordinary proficiency on the part of its Author, who left the Indians only in the spring of 1816, at which time he supposes himself to have been nineteen or twenty years of age. An ardent desire to become acquainted with some one of the learned professions, in concurrence with the advice of a venerable friend, to whom he appears to be indebted for his religious knowledge, induced him to take the step of journeying eastward as far as New York or Philadelphia, with a view to publish the history of his life, and such information as he possessed respecting the Indian nations west of the Mississippi. It was this friend, Mr. Wyatt, who had first explained to him the difference between the natural rights enjoyed by the Indians, and those which are essential to the harmonious preservation of religious society; and it was he, adds Mr. Hunter, • who first satisfactorily unfolded to my benighted mind, the identity of the Great Spirit with the Creator of all things, and the Salvator of the human family. He also taught me rationally to unbend my selfish, evil propensities, and to gird on the armour of self-denial, charity, and truth, and to square my life by them, as acceptable offerings to the Great I AM.'

In the Autumn of 1821, he crossed the Alleghany mountains,

[ocr errors]

my life.'

to commence, as it were, a new existence, unknown to a

single human being,' he says, 'with whom I could claim • kindred, except from common origin, and even indebted to

circumstances for a name.' But he speaks with gratitude of the kindness and respectful attention he has every where met with. • That I may merit their continuance,' he says in conclusion, 'will be the high ambition and constant endeavour of

The account of the Indian tribes which is appended to the Narrative, occupies the greater part of the volume ; but we have no room left to enter upon its contents. The information it comprises, will be found extremely_interesting, agreeing generally with the statements of Dr. Edwin James, but, of course, much more copious, minute, and characteristic. Some of the observations demand especially the attention of the American Missionary Societies, who have taken up, with laudable zeal, the cause of this much injured and neglected portion of our race. It is impossible not to take a warm interest in the future fortunes and character of Mr. Hunter, and we trust he may live to pay back, in substantial benefits to the Indian family, the debt of kindness he lies under to the friends and protectors of his childhood, his red brethren, and ours.

Art. VIII. Fables for the Holy Alliance, Rhymes on the Road, &c. &c.

By Thomas Brown, the Younger, Secretary of the Poco-curante
Society, and Author of the Fudge Family, and the Two.penny

Post Bag. f.cap. 8vo. pp. 198. Price 83. 6d. London, 1823. THIS is enough: the Author of the Fudge Family, and

• the Two-penny Post Bag,' says every thing that needs be said about the Book. Our readers will immediately know what to look for in these Fables and Rhymes; and we may as well proceed at once to our extracts, which must form, indeed, our apology for noticing a mere jest-book. We did intend to look very grave upon the levity, disloyalty, and other exceptionable features of the present merry and facetious publica-. tion. But what tender parent (we do not say schoolmaster) has never had his solemn pre-determination to administer chastisement to his offending subject, set aside by the irresistible archness or drollery of the young culprit ? Besides, there are redeeming things in the volume ; for instance, Fable III.

THE TORCH OF LIBERTY.
• I saw it all in Fancy's glass

Herself, the fair, the wild magician,
That bid this splendid day-dream pass,

And nam'd each gliding apparition.

« ForrigeFortsett »