Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books


Part 2 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

pieces of old iron, and then fired them, and the small arms of
the ship, among the natives. The havoc was dreadful; more than a
hundred, according to Young's account, were slain.

After this signal act of vengeance, Captain Metcalf sailed from
Mowee, and made for the island of Owyhee, where he was well
received by Tamaahmaah. The fortunes of this warlike chief were
at that time on the rise. He had originally been of inferior
rank, ruling over only one or two districts of Owyhee, but had
gradually made himself sovereign of his native island.

The Eleanor remained some few days at anchor here, and an
apparently friendly intercourse was kept up with the inhabitants.
On the 17th March, John Young obtained permission to pass the
night on shore. On the following morning a signal-gun summoned
him to return on board.

He went to the shore to embark, but found all the canoes hauled
up on the beach and rigorously tabooed, or interdicted. He would
have launched one himself, but was informed by Tamaahmaah that if
he presumed to do so he would be put to death.

Young was obliged to submit, and remained all day in great
perplexity to account for this mysterious taboo, and fearful that
some hostility was intended. In the evening he learned the cause
of it, and his uneasiness was increased. It appeared that the
vindictive act of Captain Metcalf had recoiled upon his own head.
The schooner Fair American, commanded by his son, following in
his track, had fallen into the hands of the natives to the
southward of Tocaigh Bay, and young Metcalf and four of the crew
had been massacred.

On receiving intelligence of this event, Tamaahmaah had
immediately tabooed all the canoes, and interdicted all
intercourse with the ship, lest the captain should learn the fate
of the schooner, and take his revenge upon the island. For the
same reason he prevented Young from rejoining his countrymen. The
Eleanor continued to fire signals from time to time for two days,
and then sailed; concluding, no doubt, that the boatswain had

John Young was in despair when he saw the ship make sail; and
found himself abandoned among savages;-and savages, too,
sanguinary in their character, and inflamed by acts of hostility.
He was agreeably disappointed, however, in experiencing nothing
but kind treatment from Tamaahmaah and his people. It is true, he
was narrowly watched whenever a vessel came in sight, lest he
should escape and relate what had passed; but at other times he
was treated with entire confidence and great distinction. He
became a prime favorite, cabinet counsellor, and active coadjutor
of Tamaahmaah, attending him in all his excursions, whether of
business or pleasure, and aiding in his warlike and ambitious
enterprises. By degrees he rose to the rank of a chief, espoused
one of the beauties of the island, and became habituated and
reconciled to his new way of life; thinking it better, perhaps,
to rule among savages than serve among white men; to be a
feathered chief than a tarpaulin boatswain. His favor with
Tamahmaah, never declined; and when that sagacious, intrepid, and
aspiring chieftain had made himself sovereign over the whole
group of islands, and removed his residence to Woahoo, he left
his faithful adherent John Young in command of Owyhee.

Such is an outline of the history of Governor Young, as furnished
by himself; and we regret that we are not able to give any
account of the state maintained by this seafaring worthy, and the
manner in which he discharged his high functions; though it is
evident he had more of the hearty familiarity of the forecastle
than the dignity of the gubernatorial office.

These long conferences were bitter trials to the patience of the
captain, who had no respect either for the governor or his
island, and was anxious to push on in quest of provisions and
water. As soon as he could get his inquisitive partners once more
on board, he weighed anchor, and made sail for the island of
Woahoo, the royal residence of Tamaahmaah.

This is the most beautiful island of the Sandwich group. It is
forty-six miles in length and twenty-three in breadth. A ridge of
volcanic mountains extends through the centre, rising into lofty
peaks, and skirted by undulating hills and rich plains, where the
cabins of the natives peep out from beneath groves of cocoanut
and other luxuriant trees.

On the 21st of February the Tonquin cast anchor in the beautiful
bay before the village of Waititi, (pronounced Whyteetee.) the
abode of Tamaahmaah. This village contained about two hundred
habitations, composed of poles set in the ground, tied together
at the ends, and thatched with grass, and was situated in an open
grove of cocoanuts. The royal palace of Tamaahmaah was a large
house of two stories; the lower of stone, the upper of wood.
Round this his body-guard kept watch, composed of twenty-four men
in long blue cassocks, turned up with yellow, and each armed with
a musket.

While at anchor at this place, much ceremonious visiting and long
conferences took place between the potentate of the islands and
the partners of the company. Tamaahmaah came on board of the ship
in royal style, in his double pirogue. He was between fifty and
sixty years of age, above the middle size, large and well made,
though somewhat corpulent. He was dressed in an old suit of
regimentals, with a sword by his side, and seemed somewhat
embarrassed by his magnificent attire. Three of his wives
accompanied him. They were almost as tall, and quite as corpulent
as himself; but by no means to be compared with him in grandeur
of habiliments, wearing no other garb than the pan. With him,
also, came his great favorite and confidential counseller,
Kraimaker; who, from holding a post equivalent to that of prime
minister, had been familiarly named Billy Pitt by the British
visitors to the islands.

The sovereign was received with befitting ceremonial. The
American flag was displayed, four guns were fired, and the
partners appeared in scarlet coats, and conducted their
illustrious guests to the cabin, where they were regaled with
wine. In this interview the partners endeavored to impress the
monarch with a sense of their importance, and of the importance
of the association to which they belonged. They let him know that
they were eris, or chiefs, of a great company about to be
established on the northwest coast, and talked of the probability
of opening a trade with his islands, and of sending ships there
occasionally. All this was gratifying and interesting to him, for
he was aware of the advantages of trade, and desirous of
promoting frequent intercourse with white men. He encouraged
Europeans and Americans to settle in his islands and intermarry
with his subjects. There were between twenty and thirty white men
at that time resident in the island, but many of them were mere
vagabonds, who remained there in hopes of leading a lazy and an
easy life. For such Tamaahmaah had a great contempt; those only
had his esteem and countenance who knew some trade or mechanic
art, and were sober and industrious.

On the day subsequent to the monarch's visit, the partners landed
and waited upon him in return. Knowing the effect of show and
dress upon men in savage life, and wishing to make a favorable
impression as the eris, or chiefs, of the great American Fur
Company, some of them appeared in Highland plaids and kilts to
the great admiration of the natives.

While visits of ceremony and grand diplomatic conferences were
going on between the partners and the king, the captain, in his
plain, matter-of-fact way, was pushing what he considered a far
more important negotiation; the purchase of a supply of hogs. He
found that the king had profited in more ways than one by his
intercourse with white men. Above all other arts he had learned
the art of driving a bargain. He was a magnanimous monarch, but a
shrewd pork merchant; and perhaps thought he could not do better
with his future allies, the American Fur Company, than to begin
by close dealing. Several interviews were requisite, and much
bargaining, before he could be brought to part with a bristle of
his bacon, and then he insisted upon being paid in hard Spanish
dollars; giving as a reason that he wanted money to purchase a
frigate from his brother George, as he affectionately termed the
king of England. *

At length the royal bargain was concluded; the necessary supply
of hogs obtained, besides several goats, two sheep, a quantity of
poultry, and vegetables in abundance. The partners now urged to
recruit their forces from the natives of this island. They
declared they had never seen watermen equal to them, even among
the voyageurs of the Northwest; and, indeed, they are remarkable
for their skill in managing their light craft, and can swim and
dive like waterfowl. The partners were inclined, therefore, to
take thirty or forty with them to the Columbia, to be ernployed
in the service of the company. The captain, however, objected
that there was not room in his vessel for the accommodation of
such a number. Twelve, only, were therefore enlisted for the
company, and as many more for the service of the ship. The former
engaged to serve for the term of three years, during , which they
were to be fed and clothed; and at the expiration of the time
were to receive one hundred dollars in merchandise.

And now, having embarked his live-stock, fruits, vegetables, and
water, the captain made ready to set sail. How much the honest
man had suffered in spirit by what he considered the freaks and
vagaries of his passengers, and how little he had understood
their humors and intentions, is amusingly shown in a letter
written to Mr. Astor from Woahoo, which contains his comments on
the scenes we have described.

"It would be difficult," he writes, "to imagine the frantic
gambols that are daily played off here; sometimes dressing in red
coats, and otherwise very fantastically, and collecting a number
of ignorant natives around them, telling them that they are the
great eris of the Northwest, and making arrangements for sending
three or four vessels yearly to them from the coast with spars,
&c.; while those very natives cannot even furnish a hog to the
ship. Then dressing in Highland plaids and kilts, and making
similar arrangements, with presents of rum, wine, or anything
that is at hand. Then taking a number of clerks and men on shore
to the very spot on which Captain Cook was killed, and each
fetching off a piece of the rock or tree that was touched by the
shot. Then sitting down with some white man or some native who
can be a little understood, and collecting the history of those
islands, of Tamaahmaah's wars, the curiosities of the islands,
&c., preparatory to the histories of their voyages; and the
collection is indeed ridiculously contemptible. To enumerate the
thousand instances of ignorance, filth, &c., - or to
particularize all the frantic gambols that are daily practiced,
would require Volumes.

Before embarking, the great eris of the American Fur Company took
leave of their illustrious ally in due style, with many
professions of lasting friendship and promises of future
intercourse; while the matter-of-fact captain anathematized him
in his heart for a grasping, trafficking savage; as shrewd and
sordid in his dealings as a white man. As one of the vessels of
the company will, in the course of events, have to appeal to the
justice and magnanimity of this island potentate, we shall see
how far the honest captain was right in his opinion.

* It appears, from the accounts of subsequent voyagers, that
Tamaahmaah afterwards succeeded in his wish of purchasing a large
ship. In this he sent a cargo of sandal-wood to Canton, having
discovered that the foreign merchants trading with him made large
profits on this wood, shipped by them from the islands to the
Chinese markets. The ship was manned by natives, but the officers
were Englishmen. She accomplished her voyage, and returned in
safety to the islands, with the Hawaiian flag floating gloriously
in the breeze. The king hastened on board, expecting to find his
sandal-wood converted into crapes and damasks, and other rich
stuffs of China, but found, to his astonishment, by the
legerdemain of traffic, his cargo had all disappeared, and, in
place of it, remained a bill of charges amounting to three
thousand dollars. It was some time before he could be made to
comprehend certain of the most important items of the bill, such
as pilotage, anchorage, and custom-house fees; but when he
discovered that maritime states in other countries derived large
revenues in this manner, to the great cost of the merchant,
"Well," cried he, "then I will have harbor fees also." He
established them accordingly. Pilotage a dollar a foot on the
draft of each vessel. Anchorage from sixty to seventy dollars. In
this way he greatly increased the royal revenue, and turned his
China speculation to account.


Departure From the Sandwich Islands.- Misunderstandings- Miseries
of a Suspicious Man.- Arrival at the Columbia - Dangerous
Service. - Gloomy Apprehensions- Bars and Breakers.- Perils of
the Ship. Disasters of a Boat's Crew.-Burial of a Sandwich

IT was on the 28th of February that the Tonquin set sail from the
Sandwich Islands. For two days the wind was contrary, and the
vessel was detained in their neighborhood; at length a favorable
breeze sprang up, and in a little while the rich groves, green
hills, and snowy peaks of those happy islands one after another
sank from sight, or melted into the blue distance, and the
Tonquin ploughed her course towards the sterner regions of the

The misunderstandings between the captain and his passengers
still continued; or rather, increased in gravity. By his
altercations and his moody humors, he had cut himself off from
all community of thought, or freedom of conversation with them.
He disdained to ask questions as to their proceedings, and could
only guess at the meaning of their movements, and in so doing
indulged in conjectures and suspicions, which produced the most
whimsical self-torment.

Thus, in one of his disputes with them, relative to the goods on
board, some of the packages of which they wished to open, to take
out articles of clothing for the men or presents for the natives,
he was so harsh and peremptory that they lost all patience, and
hinted that they were the strongest party, and might reduce him
to a very ridiculous dilemma, by taking from him the command.

A thought now flashed across the captain's mind that they really
had a plan to depose him, and that, having picked up some
information at Owyhee, possibly of war between the United States
and England, they meant to alter the destination of the voyage;
perhaps to seize upon ship and cargo for their own use.

Once having conceived this suspicion, everything went to foster
it. They had distributed fire-arms among some of their men, a
common precaution among the fur traders when mingling with the
natives. This, however, looked like preparation. Then several of
the partners and clerks and some of the men, being Scotsmen, were
acquainted with the Gaelic, and held long conversations together
in that language. These conversations were considered by the
captain of a "mysterious and unwarranted nature," and related, no
doubt, to some foul conspiracy that was brewing among them. He
frankly avows such suspicions, in his letter to Mr. Astor, but
intimates that he stood ready to resist any treasonous outbreak;
and seems to think that the evidence of preparation on his part
had an effect in overawing the conspirators.

The fact is, as we have since been informed by one of the
parties, it was a mischievous pleasure with some of the partners
and clerks, who were young men, to play upon the suspicious
temper and splenetic humors of the captain. To this we may
ascribe many of their whimsical pranks and absurd propositions,
and, above all, their mysterious colloquies in Gaelic.

In this sore and irritable mood did the captain pursue his
course, keeping a wary eye on every movement, and bristling up
whenever the detested sound of the Gaelic language grated upon
his ear. Nothing occurred, however, materially to disturb the
residue of the voyage excepting a violent storm; and on the
twenty-second of March, the Tonquin arrived at the mouth of the
Oregon, or Columbia River.

The aspect of the river and the adjacent coast was wild and
dangerous. The mouth of the Columbia is upwards of four miles
wide with a peninsula and promontory on one side, and a long low
spit of land on the other; between which a sand bar and chain of
breakers almost block the entrance. The interior of the country
rises into successive ranges of mountains, which, at the time of
the arrival of the Tonquin, were covered with snow.

A fresh wind from the northwest sent a rough tumbling sea upon
the coast, which broke upon the bar in furious surges, and
extended a sheet of foam almost across the mouth of the river.
Under these circumstances the captain did not think it prudent to
approach within three leagues, until the bar should be sounded
and the channel ascertained. Mr. Fox, the chief mate, was ordered
to this service in the whaleboat, accompanied by John Martin, an
old seaman, who had formerly visited the river, and by three
Canadians. Fox requested to have regular sailors to man the boat,
but the captain would not spare them from the service of the
ship, and supposed the Canadians, being expert boatmen on lakes
and rivers, were competent to the service, especially when
directed and aided by Fox and Martin. Fox seems to have lost all
firmness of spirit on the occasion, and to have regarded the
service with a misgiving heart. He came to the partners for
sympathy, knowing their differences with the captain, and the
tears were in his eyes as he represented his case. "I am sent
off," said he, "without seamen to man my boat, in boisterous
weather, and on the most dangerous part of the northwest coast.
My uncle was lost a few years ago on this same bar, and I am now
going to lay my bones alongside of his." The partners sympathized
in his apprehensions, and remonstrated with the captain. The
latter, however, was not to be moved. He had been displeased with
Mr. Fox in the earlier part of the voyage, considering him
indolent and inactive; and probably thought his present
repugnance arose from a want of true nautical spirit. The
interference of the partners in the business of the ship, also,
was not calculated to have a favorable effect on a stickler for
authority like himself, especially in his actual state of feeling
towards them.

At one o'clock, P.m., therefore, Fox and his comrades set off in
the whaleboat, which is represented as small in size, and crazy
in condition. All eyes were strained after the little bark as it
pulled for shore, rising and sinking with the huge rolling waves,
until it entered, a mere speck, among the foaming breakers, and
was soon lost to view. Evening set in, night succeeded and passed
away, and morning returned, but without the return of the boat.

As the wind had moderated, the ship stood near to the land, so as
to command a view of the river's mouth. Nothing was to be seen
but a wild chaos of tumbling waves breaking upon the bar, and
apparently forming a foaming barrier from shore to shore. Towards
night the ship again stood out to gain sea-room, and a gloom was
visible in every countenance. The captain himself shared in the
general anxiety, and probably repented of his peremptory orders.
Another weary and watchful night succeeded, during which the wind
subsided, and the weather became serene.

On the following day, the ship having drifted near the land,
anchored in fourteen fathoms water, to the northward of the long
peninsula or promontory which forms the north side of the
entrance, and is called Cape Disappointment. The pinnace was then
manned, and two of the partners, Mr. David Stuart and Mr. M'Kay,
set off in the hope of learning something of the fate of the
whaleboat. The surf, however, broke with such violence along the
shore that they could find no landing place. Several of the
natives appeared on the beach and made signs to them to row round
the cape, but they thought it most prudent to return to the ship.

The wind now springing up, the Tonquin got under way, and stood
in to seek the channel; but was again deterred by the frightful
aspect of the breakers, from venturing within a league. Here she
hove to; and Mr. Mumford, the second mate, was despatched with
four hands, in the pinnace, to sound across the channel until he
should find four fathoms depth. The pinnace entered among the
breakers, but was near being lost, and with difficulty got back
to the ship. The captain insisted that Mr. Mumford had steered
too much to the southward. He now turned to Mr. Aiken, an able
mariner, destined to command the schooner intended for the
coasting trade, and ordered him, together with John Coles, sail-
maker, Stephen Weekes, armorer, and two Sandwich Islanders, to
proceed ahead and take soundings, while the ship should follow
under easy sail. In this way they proceeded until Aiken had
ascertained the channel, when signal was given from the ship for
him to return on board. He was then within pistol shot, but so
furious was the current, and tumultuous the breakers, that the
boat became unmanageable, and was hurried away, the crew crying
out piteously for assistance. In a few moments she could not be
seen from the ship's deck. Some of the passengers climbed to the
mizzen top, and beheld her still struggling to reach the ship;
but shortly after she broached broadside to the waves, and her
case seemed desperate. The attention of those on board of the
ship was now called to their own safety. They were in shallow
water; the vessel struck repeatedly, the waves broke over her,
and there was danger of her foundering. At length she got into
seven fathoms water, and the wind lulling, and the night coming
on, cast anchor. With the darkness their anxieties increased. The
wind whistled, the sea roared, the gloom was only broken by the
ghastly glare of the foaming breakers, the minds of the seamen
were full of dreary apprehensions, and some of them fancied they
heard the cries of their lost comrades mingling with the uproar
of the elements. For a time, too, the rapidly ebbing tide
threatened to sweep them from their precarious anchorage. At
length the reflux of the tide, and the springing up of the wind,
enabled them to quit their dangerous situation and take shelter
in a small bay within Cape Disappointment, where they rode in
safety during the residue of a stormy night, and enjoyed a brief
interval of refreshing sleep.

With the light of day returned their cares and anxieties. They
looked out from the mast-head over a wild coast, and wilder sea,
but could discover no trace of the two boats and their crews that
were missing. Several of the natives came on board with peltries,
but there was no disposition to trade. They were interrogated by
signs after the lost boats, but could not understand the

Parties now Went on shore and scoured the neighborhood. One of
these was headed by the captain. They had not proceeded far when
they beheld a person at a distance in civilized garb. As he drew
near he proved to be Weekes, the armorer. There was a burst of
joy, for it was hoped his comrades were near at hand. His story,
however, was one of disaster. He and his companions had found it
impossible to govern their boat, having no rudder, and being
beset by rapid and whirling currents and boisterous surges. After
long struggling they had let her go at the mercy of the waves,
tossing about, sometimes with her bow, sometimes with her
broadside to the surges, threatened each instant with
destruction, yet repeatedly escaping, until a huge sea broke over
and swamped her. Weekes was overwhelmed by the broiling waves,
but emerging above the surface, looked round for his companions.
Aiken and Coles were not to be seen; near him were the two
Sandwich Islanders, stripping themselves of their clothing that
they might swim more freely. He did the same, and the boat
floating near to him he seized hold of it. The two islanders
joined him, and, uniting their forces, they succeeded in turning
the boat upon her keel; then bearing down her stern and rocking
her, they forced out so much water that she was able to bear the
weight of a man without sinking. One of the islanders now got in,
and in a little while bailed out the water with his hands. The
other swam about and collected the oars, and they all three got
once more on board.

By this time the tide had swept them beyond the breakers, and
Weekes called on his companions to row for land. They were so
chilled and benumbed by the cold, however, that they lost all
heart, and absolutely refused. Weekes was equally chilled, but
had superior sagacity and self-command. He counteracted the
tendency to drowsiness and stupor which cold produces by keeping
himself in constant exercise; and seeing that the vessel was
advancing, and that everything depended upon himself, he set to
work to scull the boat clear of the bar, and into quiet water.

Toward midnight one of the poor islanders expired; his companion
threw himself on his corpse and could not be persuaded to leave
him. The dismal night wore away amidst these horrors: as the day
dawned, Weekes found himself near the land. He steered directly
for it, and at length, with the aid of the surf, ran his boat
high upon a sandy beach.

Finding that one of the Sandwich Islanders yet gave signs of
life, he aided him to leave the boat, and set out with him
towards the adjacent woods. The poor fellow, however, was too
feeble to follow him, and Weekes was soon obliged to abandon him
to his fate and provide for his own safety. Falling upon a beaten
path, he pursued it, and after a few hours came to a part of the
coast, where, to his surprise and joy, he beheld the ship at
anchor and was met by the captain and his party.

After Weekes had related his adventures, three parties were
despatched to beat up the coast in search of the unfortunate
islander. They returned at night without success, though they had
used the utmost diligence. On the following day the search was
resumed, and the poor fellow was at length discovered lying
beneath a group of rocks, his legs swollen, his feet torn and
bloody from walking through bushes and briars, and himself half-
dead with cold, hunger, and fatigue. Weekes and this islander
were the only survivors of the crew of the jolly-boat, and no
trace was ever discovered of Fox and his party. Thus eight men
were lost on the first approach to the coast; a commencement that
cast a gloom over the spirits of the whole party, and was
regarded by some of the superstitious as an omen that boded no
good to the enterprise.

Towards night the Sandwich Islanders went on shore, to bury the
body of their unfortunate countryman who had perished in the
boat. On arriving at the place where it had been left, they dug a
grave in the sand, in which they deposited the corpse, with a
biscuit under one of the arms, some lard under the chin, and a
small quantity of tobacco, as provisions for its journey in the
land of spirits. Having covered the body with sand and flints,
they kneeled along the grave in a double row, with their faces
turned to the east, while one who officiated as a priest
sprinkled them with water from a hat. In so doing he recited a
kind of prayer or invocation, to which, at intervals, the others
made responses. Such were the simple rites performed by these
poor savages at the grave of their comrade on the shores of a
strange land; and when these were done, they rose and returned in
silence to the ship, without once casting a look behind.


Mouth of the Columbia.- The Native Tribes.- Their Fishing.- Their
Canoes.- Bold Navigators- Equestrian Indians and Piscatory
Indians, Difference in Their Physical Organization.- Search for a
Trading Site. - Expedition of M'Dougal and David Stuart-
Comcomly, the OneEyed Chieftain.- Influence of Wealth in Savage
Life.- Slavery Among the Natives.-An Aristocracy of Flatheads.-
Hospitality Among the Chinooks- Comcomly's Daughter.- Her

THE Columbia, or Oregon, for the distance of thirty or forty
miles from its entrance into the sea, is, properly speaking, a
mere estuary, indented by deep bays so as to vary from three to
seven miles in width; and is rendered extremely intricate and
dangerous by shoals reaching nearly from shore to shore, on
which, at times, the winds and currents produce foaming and
tumultuous breakers. The mouth of the river proper is but about
half a mile wide, formed by the contracting shores of the
estuary. The entrance from the sea, as we have already observed,
is bounded on the south side by a flat sandy spit of land,
stretching in to the ocean. This is commonly called Point Adams.
The opposite, or northern side, is Cape Disappointment; a kind of
peninsula, terminating in a steep knoll or promontory crowned
with a forest of pine-trees, and connected with the mainland by a
low and narrow neck. Immediately within this cape is a wide, open
bay, terminating at Chinook Point, so called from a neighboring
tribe of Indians. This was called Baker's Bay, and here the
Tonquin was anchored.

The natives inhabiting the lower part of the river, and with whom
the company was likely to have the most frequent intercourse,
were divided at this time into four tribes, the Chinooks,
Clatsops, Wahkiacums, and Cathlamahs. They resembled each other
in person, dress, language, and manner; and were probably from
the same stock, but broken into tribes, or rather hordes, by
those feuds and schisms frequent among Indians.

These people generally live by fishing. It is true they
occasionally hunt the elk and deer, and ensnare the water-fowl of
their ponds and rivers, but these are casual luxuries. Their
chief subsistence is derived from the salmon and other fish which
abound in the Columbia and its tributary streams, aided by roots
and herbs, especially the wappatoo, which is found on the islands
of the river.

As the Indians of the plains who depend upon the chase are bold
and expert riders, and pride themselves upon their horses, so
these piscatory tribes of the coast excel in the management of
canoes, and are never more at home than when riding upon the
waves. Their canoes vary in form and size. Some are upwards of
fifty feet long, cut out of a single tree, either fir or white
cedar, and capable of carrying thirty persons. They have thwart
pieces from side to side about three inches thick, and their
gunwales flare outwards, so as to cast off the surges of the
waves. The bow and stern are decorated with grotesque figures of
men and animals, sometimes five feet in height.

In managing their canoes they kneel two and two along the bottom,
sitting on their heels, and wielding paddles from four to five
feet long, while one sits on the stern and steers with a paddle
of the same kind. The women are equally expert with the men in
managing the canoe, and generally take the helm.

It is surprising to see with what fearless unconcern these
savages venture in their light barks upon the roughest and most
tempestuous seas. They seem to ride upon the waves like sea-fowl.
Should a surge throw the canoe upon its side and endanger its
overturn, those to windward lean over the upper gunwale, thrust
their paddles deep into the wave, apparently catch the water and
force it under the canoe, and by this action not merely regain
III an equilibrium, but give their bark a vigorous impulse

The effect of different modes of life upon the human frame and
human character is strikingly instanced in the contrast between
the hunting Indians of the prairies, and the piscatory Indians of
the sea-coast. The former, continually on horseback scouring the
plains, gaining their food by hardy exercise, and subsisting
chiefly on flesh, are generally tall, sinewy, meagre, but well
formed, and of bold and fierce deportment: the latter, lounging
about the river banks, or squatting and curved up in their
canoes, are generally low in stature, ill-shaped, with crooked
legs, thick ankles, and broad flat feet. They are inferior also
in muscular power and activity, and in game qualities and
appearance, to their hard-riding brethren of the prairies.

Having premised these few particulars concerning the neighboring
Indians, we will return to the immediate concerns of the Tonquin
and her crew.

Further search was made for Mr. Fox and his party, but with no
better success, and they were at length given up as lost. In the
meantime, the captain and some of the partners explored the river
for some distance in a large boat, to select a suitable place for
the trading post. Their old jealousies and differences continued;
they never could coincide in their choice, and the captain
objected altogether to any site so high up the river. They all
returned, therefore, to Baker's Bay in no very good humor. The
partners proposed to examine the opposite shore, but the captain
was impatient of any further delay. His eagerness to "get on" had
increased upon him. He thought all these excursions a sheer loss
of time, and was resolved to land at once, build a shelter for
the reception of that part of his cargo destined for the use of
the settlement, and, having cleared his ship of it and of his
irksome shipmates, to depart upon the prosecution of his coasting
voyage, according to orders.

On the following day, therefore, without troubling himself to
consult the partners, he landed in Baker's Bay, and proceeded to
erect a shed for the reception of the rigging, equipments, and
stores of the schooner that was to be built for the use of the

This dogged determination on the part of the sturdy captain gave
high offense to Mr. M'Dougal, who now considered himself at the
head of the concern, as Mr. Astor's representative and proxy. He
set off the same day, (April 5th) accompanied by David Stuart,
for the southern shore, intending to be back by the seventh. Not
having the captain to contend with, they soon pitched upon a spot
which appeared to them favorable for the intended establishment.
It was on a point of land called Point George, having a very good
harbor, where vessels, not exceeding two hundred tons burden,
might anchor within fifty yards of the shore.

After a day thus profitably spent, they recrossed the river, but
landed on the northern shore several miles above the anchoring
ground of the Tonquin, in the neighborhood of Chinooks, and
visited the village of that tribe. Here they were received with
great hospitality by the chief, who was named Comcomly, a shrewd
old savage, with but one eye, who will occasionally figure in
this narrative. Each village forms a petty sovereignty, governed
by its own chief, who, however, possesses but little authority,
unless he be a man of wealth and substance; that is to say,
possessed of canoe, slaves, and wives. The greater the number of
these, the greater is the chief. How many wives this one-eyed
potentate maintained we are not told, but he certainly possessed
great sway, not merely over his own tribe, but over the

Having mentioned slaves, we would observe that slavery exists
among several of the tribes beyond the Rocky Mountains. The
slaves are well treated while in good health, but occupied in all
kinds of drudgery. Should they become useless, however, by
sickness or old age, they are totally neglected, and left to
perish; nor is any respect paid to their bodies after death.

A singular custom prevails, not merely among the Chinooks, but
among most of the tribes about this part of the coast, which is
the flattening of the forehead. The process by which this
deformity is effected commences immediately after birth. The
infant is laid in a wooden trough, by way of cradle. The end on
which the head reposes is higher than the rest. A padding is
placed on the forehead of the infant, with a piece of bark above
it, and is pressed down by cords, which pass through holes on
each side of the trough. As the tightening of the padding and the
pressing of the head to the board is gradual, the process is said
not to be attended with much pain. The appearance of the infant,
however, while in this state of compression, is whimsically
hideous, and "its little black eyes," we are told, "being forced
out by the tightness of the bandages, resemble those of a mouse
choked in a trap."

About a year's pressure is sufficient to produce the desired
effect, at the end of which time the child emerges from its
bandages a complete flathead, and continues so through life. It
must be noted that this flattening of the head has something in
it of aristocratical significancy, like the crippling of the feet
among the Chinese ladies of quality. At any rate, it is a sign of
freedom. No slave is permitted to bestow this enviable deformity
upon his child; all the slaves, therefore, are roundheads.

With this worthy tribe of Chinooks the two partners passed a part
of the day very agreeably. M'Dougal, who was somewhat vain of his
official rank, had given it to be understood that they were two
chiefs of a great trading company, about to be established here,
and the quick-sighted, though one-eyed chief, who was somewhat
practiced in traffic with white men, immediately perceived the
policy of cultivating the friendship of two such important
visitors. He regaled them, therefore, to the best of his ability,
with abundance of salmon and wappatoo. The next morning, April
7th, they prepared to return to the vessel, according to promise.
They had eleven miles of open bay to traverse; the wind was
fresh, the waves ran high. Comcomly remonstrated with them on the
hazard to which they would be exposed. They were resolute,
however, and launched their boat, while the wary chieftain
followed at some short distance in his canoe. Scarce had they
rowed a mile, when a wave broke over their boat and upset it.
They were in imminent peril of drowning, especially Mr. M'Dougal,
who could not swim. Comcomly, however, came bounding over the
waves in his light canoe, and snatched them from a watery grave.

They were taken on shore and a fire made, at which they dried
their clothes, after which Comcomly conducted them back to his
village. Here everything was done that could be devised for their
entertainment during three days that they were detained by bad
weather. Comcomly made his people perform antics before them; and
his wives and daughters endeavored, by all the soothing and
endearing arts of women, to find favor in their eyes. Some even
painted their bodies with red clay, and anointed themselves with
fish oil, to give additional lustre to their charms. Mr. M'Dougal
seems to have had a heart susceptible to the influence of the
gentler sex. Whether or no it was first touched on this occasion
we do not learn; but it will be found, in the course of this
work, that one of the daughters of the hospitable Comcomly
eventually made a conquest of the great eri of the American Fur

When the weather had moderated and the sea became tranquil, the
one-eyed chief of the Chinooks manned his state canoe, and
conducted his guests in safety to the ship, where they were
welcomed with joy, for apprehensions had been felt for their
safety. Comcomly and his people were then entertained on board of
the Tonquin, and liberally rewarded for their hospitality and
services. They returned home highly satisfied, promising to
remain faithful friends and allies of the white men.


Point George- Founding of Astoria- Indian Visitors.- Their
Reception.- The Captain Taboos the Ship.- Departure of the
Tonquin. - Comments on the Conduct of Captain Thorn.

FROM the report made by the two exploring partners, it was
determined that Point George should be the site of the trading
house. These gentlemen, it is true, were not perfectly satisfied
with the place, and were desirous of continuing their search; but
Captain Thorn was impatient to land his cargo and continue his
voyage, and protested against any more of what he termed
"sporting excursions."

Accordingly, on the 12th of April the launch was freighted with
all things necessary for the purpose, and sixteen persons
departed in her to commence the establishment, leaving the
Tonquin to follow as soon as the harbor could be sounded.

Crossing the wide mouth of the river, the party landed, and
encamped at the bottom of a small bay within Point George. The
situation chosen for the fortified post was on an elevation
facing to the north, with the wide estuary, its sand bars and
tumultuous breakers spread out before it, and the promontory of
Cape Disappointment, fifteen miles distant, closing the prospect
to the left. The surrounding country was in all the freshness of
spring; the trees were in the young leaf, the weather was superb,
and everything looked delightful to men just emancipated from a
long confinement on shipboard. The Tonquin shortly afterwards
made her way through the intricate channel, an came to anchor in
the little bay, and was saluted from the encampment with three
volleys of musketry and three cheers. She returned the salute
with three cheers and three guns.

All hands now set to work cutting down trees, clearing away
thickets, and marking out the place for the residence,
storehouse, and powder magazine, which were to be built of logs
and covered with bark. Others landed the timbers intended for the
frame of the coasting vessel, and proceeded to put them together,
while others prepared a garden spot, and sowed the seeds of
various vegetables.

The next thought was to give a name to the embryo metropolis: the
one that naturally presented itself was that of the projector and
supporter of the whole enterprise. It was accordingly named

The neighboring Indians now swarmed about the place. Some brought
a few land-otter and sea-otter skins to barter, but in very
scanty parcels; the greater number came prying about to gratify
their curiosity, for they are said to be impertinently
inquisitive; while not a few came with no other design than to
pilfer; the laws of meum and tuum being but slightly respected
among them. Some of them beset the ship in their canoes, among
whom was the Chinook chief Comcomly, and his liege subjects.
These were well received by Mr. M'Dougal, who was delighted with
an opportunity of entering upon his functions, and acquiring
importance in the eyes of his future neighbors. The confusion
thus produced on board, and the derangement of the cargo caused
by this petty trade, stirred the spleen of the captain, who had a
sovereign contempt for the one-eyed chieftain and all his crew.
He complained loudly of having his ship lumbered by a host of
"Indian ragamuffins," who had not a skin to dispose of, and at
length put his positive interdict upon all trafficking on board.
Upon this Mr. M'Dougal was fain to land, and establish his
quarters at the encampment, where he could exercise his rights
and enjoy his dignities without control.

The feud, however, between these rival powers still continued,
but was chiefly carried on by letter. Day after day and week
after week elapsed, yet the store-house requisite for the
reception of the cargo was not completed, and the ship was
detained in port; while the captain was teased by frequent
requisitions for various articles for the use of the
establishment, or the trade with the natives. An angry
correspondence took place, in which he complained bitterly of the
time wasted in "smoking and sporting parties," as he termed the
reconnoitering expeditions, and in clearing and preparing meadow
ground and turnip patches, instead of despatching his ship. At
length all these jarring matters were adjusted, if not to the
satisfaction, at least to the acquiescence of all parties. The
part of the cargo destined for the use of Astoria was landed, and
the ship left free to proceed on her voyage.

As the Tonquin was to coast to the north, to trade for peltries
at the different harbors, and to touch at Astoria on her return
in the autumn, it was unanimously determined that Mr. M'Kay
should go in her as supercargo, taking with him Mr. Lewis as
ship's clerk. On the first of June the ship got under way, and
dropped down to Baker's Bay, where she was detained for a few
days by a head wind; but early in the morning of the fifth stood
out to sea with a fine breeze and swelling canvas, and swept off
gaily on her fatal voyage, from which she was never to return!

On reviewing the conduct of Captain Thorn, and examining his
peevish and somewhat whimsical correspondence, the impression
left upon our mind is, upon the whole, decidedly in his favor.
While we smile at the simplicity of his heart and the narrowness
of his views, which made him regard everything out of the direct
path of his daily duty, and the rigid exigencies of the service,
as trivial and impertinent, which inspired him with contempt for
the swelling vanity of some of his coadjutors, and the literary
exercises and curious researches of others, we cannot but applaud
that strict and conscientious devotion to the interests of his
employer, and to what he considered the true objects of the
enterprise in which he was engaged. He certainly was to blame
occasionally for the asperity of his manners, and the arbitrary
nature of his measures, yet much that is exceptionable in this
part of his conduct may be traced to rigid notions of duty
acquired in that tyrannical school, a ship of war, and to the
construction given by his companions to the orders of Mr. Astor,
so little in conformity with his own. His mind, too, appears to
have become almost diseased by the suspicions he had formed as to
the loyalty of his associates, and the nature of their ultimate
designs; yet on this point there were circumstances to, in some
measure, justify him. The relations between the United States and
Great Britain were at that time in a critical state; in fact, the
two countries were on the eve of a war. Several of the partners
were British subjects, and might be ready to desert the flag
under which they acted, should a war take place. Their
application to the British minister at New York shows the dubious
feeling with which they had embarked in the present enterprise.
They had been in the employ of the Northwest Company, and might
be disposed to rally again under that association, should events
threaten the prosperity of this embryo establishment of Mr.
Astor. Besides, we have the fact, averred to us by one of the
partners, that some of them, who were young and heedless, took a
mischievous and unwarrantable pleasure in playing upon the
jealous temper of the captain, and affecting mysterious
consultations and sinister movements.

These circumstances are cited in palliation of the doubts and
surmises of Captain Thorn, which might otherwise appear strange
and unreasonable. That most of the partners were perfectly
upright and faithful in the discharge of the trust reposed in
them we are fully satisfied; still the honest captain was not
invariably wrong in his suspicions; and that he formed a pretty
just opinion of the integrity of that aspiring personage, Mr.
M'Dougal, will be substantially proved in the sequel.


Disquieting Rumors From the Interior.- Reconnoitring Party-
Preparations for a Trading Post.- An Unexpected Arrival - A Spy
in the Camp.- Expedition Into the Interior- Shores of the
Columbia - Mount Coffin.- Indian Sepulchre.- The Land of Spirits-
Columbian Valley- Vancouver's Point.-Falls and Rapids.- A Great
Fishing Mart.- The Village of Wishram. - Difference Between
Fishing Indians and Hunting Indians- Effects of Habits of Trade
on the Indian Character.- Post Established at the Oakinagan.

WHILE the Astorians were busily occupied in completing their
factory and fort, a report was brought to them by an Indian from
the upper part of the river, that a party of thirty white men had
appeared on the banks of the Columbia, and were actually building
houses at the second rapids. This information caused much
disquiet. We have already mentioned that the Northwest Company
had established posts to the west of the Rocky Mountains, in a
district called by them New Caledonia, which extended from lat.
52 to 55 deg north, being within the British territories. It was
now apprehended that they were advancing within the American
limits, and were endeavoring to seize upon the upper part of the
river and forestall the American Fur Company in the surrounding
trade; in which case bloody feuds might be anticipated, such as
had prevailed between the rival fur companies in former days.

A reconnoitring party was sent up the river to ascertain the
truth of the report. They ascended to the foot of the first
rapid, about two hundred miles, but could hear nothing of any
white men being in the neighborhood.

Not long after their return, however, further accounts were
received, by two wandering Indians, which established the fact
that the Northwest Company had actually erected a trading house
on the Spokane River, which falls into the north branch of the

What rendered this intelligence the more disquieting was the
inability of the Astorians, in their present reduced state as to
numbers, and the exigencies of their new establishment, to
furnish detachments to penetrate the country in different
directions, and fix the posts necessary to secure the interior

It was resolved, however, at any rate, to advance a countercheck
to this post on the Spokan, and one of the partners, Mr. David
Stuart, prepared to set out for the purpose with eight men and a
small assortment of goods. He was to be guided by the two
Indians, who knew the country and promised to take him to a place
not far from the Spokan River, and in a neighborhood abounding
with beaver. Here he was to establish himself and to remain for a
time, provided he found the situation advantageous and the
natives friendly.

On the 15th of July, when Mr. Stuart was nearly ready to embark,
a canoe made its appearance, standing for the harbor, and manned
by nine white men. Much speculation took place who these
strangers could be, for it was too soon to expect their own
people, under Mr. Hunt, who were to cross the continent. As the
canoe drew near, the British standard was distinguished: on
coming to land, one of the crew stepped on shore, and announced
himself as Mr. David Thompson, astronomer, and partner of the
Northwest Company. According to his account, he had set out in
the preceding year with a tolerably strong party, and a supply of
Indian goods, to cross the Rocky Mountains. A part of his people,
however, had deserted him on the eastern side, and returned with
the goods to the nearest Northwest post. He had persisted in
crossing the mountains with eight men, who remained true to him.
They had traversed the higher regions, and ventured near the
source of the Columbia, where, in the spring, they had
constructed a cedar canoe, the same in which they had reached

This, in fact, was the party despatched by the Northwest Company
to anticipate Mr. Astor in his intention of effecting a
settlement at the mouth of the Columbia River. It appears, from
information subsequently derived from other sources, that Mr.
Thompson had pushed on his course with great haste, calling at
all the Indian villages in his march, presenting them with
British flags, and even planting them at the forks of the rivers,
proclaiming formally that he took possession of the country in
the name of the king of Great Britain for the Northwest Company.
As his original plan was defeated by the desertion of his people,
it is probable that he descended the river simply to reconnoitre,
and ascertain whether an American settlement had been commenced.

Mr. Thompson was, no doubt, the first white man who descended the
northern branch of the Columbia from so near its source. Lewis
and Clarke struck the main body of the river at the forks, about
four hundred miles from its mouth. They entered it from Lewis
River, its southern branch, and thence descended.

Though Mr. Thompson could be considered as little better than a
spy in the camp, he was received with great cordiality by Mr.
M'Dougal, who had a lurking feeling of companionship and good-
will for all of the Northwest Company. He invited him to head-
quarters, where he and his people were hospitably entertained.
Nay, further, being somewhat in extremity, he was furnished by
Mr. M'Dougal with goods and provisions for his journey back
across the mountains, much against the wishes Of Mr. David
Stuart, who did not think the object of his visit entitled him to
any favor.

On the 23rd of July, Mr. Stuart set out upon his expedition to
the interior. His party consisted of four of the clerks, Messrs.
Pillet, Ross, M'Lennon, and Montigny, two Canadian voyageurs, and
two natives of the Sandwich Islands. They had three canoes well
laden with provisions, and with goods and necessities for a
trading establishment.

Mr. Thompson and his party set out in company with them, it being
his intention to proceed direct to Montreal. The partners at
Astoria forwarded by him a short letter to Mr. Astor, informing
him of their safe arrival at the mouth of the Columbia, and that
they had not yet heard of Mr. Hunt. The little squadron of canoes
set sail with a favorable breeze, and soon passed Tongue Point, a
long, high, and rocky promontory, covered with trees, and
stretching far into the river. Opposite to this, on the northern
shore, is a deep bay, where the Columbia anchored at the time of
the discovery, and which is still called Gray's Bay, from the
name of her commander.

From hence, the general course of the river for about seventy
miles was nearly southeast; varying in breadth according to its
bays and indentations, and navigable for vessels of three hundred
tons. The shores were in some places high and rocky, with low
marshy islands at their feet, subject to inundation, and covered
with willows, poplars, and other trees that love an alluvial
soil. Sometimes the mountains receded, and gave place to
beautiful plains and noble forests. While the river margin was
richly fringed with trees of deciduous foliage, the rough uplands
were crowned by majestic pines, and firs of gigantic size, some
towering to the height of between two and three hundred feet,
with proportionate circumference. Out of these the Indians
wrought their great canoes and pirogues.

At one part of the river, they passed, on the northern side, an
isolated rock, about one hundred and fifty feet high, rising from
a low marshy soil, and totally disconnected with the adjacent
mountains. This was held in great reverence by the neighboring
Indians, being one of their principal places of sepulture. The
same provident care for the deceased that prevails among the
hunting tribes of the prairies is observable among the piscatory
tribes of the rivers and sea-coast. Among the former, the
favorite horse of the hunter is buried with him in the same
funereal mound, and his bow and arrows are laid by his side, that
he may be perfectly equipped for the "happy hunting grounds" of
the land of spirits. Among the latter, the Indian is wrapped in
his mantle of skins, laid in his canoe, with his paddle, his
fishing spear, and other implements beside him, and placed aloft
on some rock or other eminence overlooking the river, or bay, or
lake, that he has frequented. He is thus fitted out to launch
away upon those placid streams and sunny lakes stocked with all
kinds of fish and waterfowl, which are prepared in the next world
for those who have acquitted themselves as good sons, good
fathers, good husbands, and, above all, good fishermen, during
their mortal sojourn.

The isolated rock in question presented a spectacle of the kind,
numerous dead bodies being deposited in canoes on its summit;
while on poles around were trophies, or, rather, funeral
offerings of trinkets, garments, baskets of roots, and other
articles for the use of the deceased. A reverential feeling
protects these sacred spots from robbery or insult. The friends
of the deceased, especially the women, repair here at sunrise and
sunset for some time after his death, singing his funeral dirge,
and uttering loud wailings and lamentations.

From the number of dead bodies in canoes observed upon this rock
by the first explorers of the river, it received the name of
Mount Coffin, which it continues to bear.

Beyond this rock they passed the mouth of a river on the right
bank of the Columbia, which appeared to take its rise in a
distant mountain covered with snow. The Indian name of this river
was the Cowleskee. Some miles further on they came to the great
Columbian Valley, so called by Lewis and Clarke. It is sixty
miles in width, and extends far to the southeast between parallel
ridges of mountains, which bound it on the east and west. Through
the centre of this valley flowed a large and beautiful stream,
called the Wallamot, which came wandering for several miles,
through a yet unexplored wilderness. The sheltered situation of
this immense valley had an obvious effect upon the climate. It
was a region of great beauty and luxuriance, with lakes and
pools, and green meadows shaded by noble groves. Various tribes
were said to reside in this valley, and along the banks of the

About eight miles above the mouth of the Wallamot the little
squadron arrived at Vancouver's Point, so called in honor of that
celebrated voyager by his lieutenant (Broughton) when he explored
the river. This point is said to present one of the most
beautiful scenes on the Columbia; a lovely meadow, with a silver
sheet of limpid water in the center, enlivened by wild-fowl, a
range of hills crowned by forests, while the prospect is closed
by Mount Hood, a magnificent mountain rising into a lofty peak,
and covered with snow; the ultimate landmark of the first
explorers of the river.

Point Vancouver is about one hundred miles from Astoria. Here the
reflux of the tide ceases to be perceptible. To this place
vessels of two and three hundred tons burden may ascend. The
party under the command of Mr. Stuart had been three or four days
in reaching it, though we have forborne to notice their daily
progress and nightly encampments.

From Point Vancouver the river turned towards the northeast, and
became more contracted and rapid, with occasional islands and
frequent sand-banks. These islands are furnished with a number of
ponds, and at certain seasons abound with swans, geese, brandts,
cranes, gulls, plover, and other wild-fowl. The shores, too, are
low and closely wooded, with such an undergrowth of vines and
rushes as to be almost impassable.

About thirty miles above Point Vancouver the mountains again
approach on both sides of the river, which is bordered by
stupendous precipices, covered with the fir and the white cedar,
and enlivened occasionally by beautiful cascades leaping from a
great height, and sending up wreaths of vapor. One of these
precipices, or cliffs, is curiously worn by time and weather so
as to have the appearance of a ruined fortress, with towers and
battlements, beetling high above the river, while two small
cascades, one hundred and fifty feet in height, pitch down from
the fissures of the rocks.

The turbulence and rapidity of the current continually augmenting
as they advanced, gave the voyagers intimation that they were
approaching the great obstructions of the river, and at length
they arrived at Strawberry Island, so called by Lewis and Clarke,
which lies at the foot of the first rapid. As this part of the
Columbia will be repeatedly mentioned in the course of this work,
being the scene of some of its incidents, we shall give a general
description of it in this place.

The falls or rapids of the Columbia are situated about one
hundred and eighty miles above the mouth of the river. The first
is a perpendicular cascade of twenty feet, after which there is a
swift descent for a mile, between islands of hard black rock, to
another pitch of eight feet divided by two rocks. About two and a
half miles below this the river expands into a wide basin,
seemingly dammed up by a perpendicular ridge of black rock. A
current, however, sets diagonally to the left of this rocky
barrier, where there is a chasm forty-five yards in width.
Through this the whole body of the river roars along, swelling
and whirling and boiling for some distance in the wildest
confusion. Through this tremendous channel the intrepid explorers
of the river, Lewis and Clarke, passed in their boats; the danger
being, not from the rocks, but from the great surges and

At the distance of a mile and a half from the foot of this narrow
channel is a rapid, formed by two rocky islands; and two miles
beyond is a second great fall, over a ledge of rocks twenty feet
high, extending nearly from shore to shore. The river is again
compressed into a channel from fifty to a hundred feet wide, worn
through a rough bed of hard black rock, along which it boils and
roars with great fury for the distance of three miles. This is
called "The Long Narrows."

Here is the great fishing place of the Columbia. In the spring of
the year, when the water is high, the salmon ascend the river in
incredible numbers. As they pass through this narrow strait, the
Indians, standing on the rocks, or on the end of wooden stages
projecting from the banks, scoop them up with small nets
distended on hoops and attached to long handles, and cast them on
the shore.

They are then cured and packed in a peculiar manner. After having
been opened and disemboweled, they are exposed to the sun on
scaffolds erected on the river banks. When sufficiently dry, they
are pounded fine between two stones, pressed into the smallest
compass, and packed in baskets or bales of grass matting, about
two feet long and one in diameter, lined with the cured skin of a
salmon. The top is likewise covered with fish skins, secured by
cords passing through holes in the edge of the basket. Packages
are then made, each containing twelve of these bales, seven at
bottom, five at top, pressed close to each other, with the corded
side upward, wrapped in mats and corded. These are placed in dry
situations, and again covered with matting. Each of these
packages contains from ninety to a hundred pounds of dried fish,
which in this state will keep sound for several years.** (Lewis
and Clarke, vol. ii. p. 32.)

We have given this process at some length, as furnished by the
first explorers, because it marks a practiced ingenuity in
preparing articles of traffic for a market, seldom seen among our
aboriginals. For like reason we would make especial mention of
the village of Wishram, at the head of the Long Narrows, as being
a solitary instance of an aboriginal trading mart, or emporium.
Here the salmon caught in the neighboring rapids were
"warehoused," to await customers. Hither the tribes from the
mouth of the Columbia repaired with the fish of the sea-coast,
the roots, berries, and especially the wappatoo, gathered in the
lower parts of the river, together with goods and trinkets
obtained from the ships which casually visit the coast. Hither
also the tribes from the Rocky Mountains brought down horses,
bear-grass, quamash, and other commodities of the interior. The
merchant fishermen at the falls acted as middlemen or factors,
and passed the objects of traffic, as it were, cross-handed;
trading away part of the wares received from the mountain tribes
to those of the rivers and plains, and vice versa: their packages
of pounded salmon entered largely into the system of barter, and
being carried off in opposite directions, found their way to the
savage hunting camps far in the interior, and to the casual white
traders who touched upon the coast.

We have already noticed certain contrarieties of character
between the Indian tribes, produced by their diet and mode of
life; and nowhere are they more apparent than about the falls of
the Columbia. The Indians of this great fishing mart are
represented by the earliest explorers as sleeker and fatter, but
less hardy and active, than the tribes of the mountains and
prairies, who live by hunting, or of the upper parts of the
river, where fish is scanty, and the inhabitants must eke out
their subsistence by digging roots or chasing the deer. Indeed,
whenever an Indian of the upper country is too lazy to hunt, yet
is fond of good living, he repairs to the falls, to live in
abundance without labor.

"By such worthless dogs as these," says an honest trader in his
journal, which now lies before us, "by such worthless dogs as
these are these noted fishing-places peopled, which, like our
great cities, may with propriety be called the headquarters of
vitiated principles."

The habits of trade and the avidity of gain have their corrupting
effects even in the wilderness, as may be instanced in the
members of this aboriginal emporium; for the same journalist
denounces them as "saucy, impudent rascals, who will steal when
they can, and pillage whenever a weak party falls in their

That he does not belie them will be evidenced hereafter, when we
have occasion again to touch at Wishram and navigate the rapids.
In the present instance the travellers effected the laborious
ascent of this part of the river, with all its various portages,
without molestation, and once more launched away in smooth water
above the high falls.

The two parties continued together, without material impediment,
for three or four hundred miles further up the Columbia; Mr.
Thompson appearing to take great interest in the success of Mr.
Stuart, and pointing out places favorable, as he said, to the
establishment of his contemplated trading post.

Mr. Stuart, who distrusted his sincerity, at length pretended to
adopt his advice, and, taking leave of him, remained as if to
establish himself, while the other proceeded on his course
towards the mountains. No sooner, however, had he fairly departed
than Mr. Stuart again pushed forward, under guidance of the two
Indians, nor did he stop until he had arrived within about one
hundred and forty miles of the Spokan River, which he considered
near enough to keep the rival establishment in check. The place
which he pitched upon for his trading post was a point of land
about three miles in length and two in breadth, formed by the
junction of the Oakinagan with the Columbia. The former is a
river which has its source in a considerable lake about one
hundred and fifty miles west of the point of junction. The two
rivers, about the place of their confluence, are bordered by
immense prairies covered with herbage, but destitute of trees.
The point itself was ornamented with wild flowers of every hue,
in which innumerable humming-birds were "banqueting nearly the
livelong day."

The situation of this point appeared to be well adapted for a
trading post. The climate was salubrious, the soil fertile, the
rivers well stocked with fish, the natives peaceable and
friendly. There were easy communications with the interior by the
upper waters of the Columbia and the lateral stream of the
Oakinagan, while the downward current of the Columbia furnished a
highway to Astoria.

Availing himself, therefore, of the driftwood which had collected
in quantities in the neighboring bends of the river, Mr. Stuart
and his men set to work to erect a house, which in a little while
was sufficiently completed for their residence; and thus was
established the first interior post of the company. We will now
return to notice the progress of affairs at the mouth of the


Alarm at Astoria.- Rumor of Indian Hostilities.- Preparations for
Defense.- Tragic Fate of the Tonquin.

THE sailing of the Tonquin, and the departure of Mr. David Stuart
and his detachment, had produced a striking effect on affairs at
Astoria. The natives who had swarmed about the place began
immediately to drop off, until at length not an Indian was to be
seen. This, at first, was attributed to the want of peltries with
which to trade; but in a little while the mystery was explained
in a more alarming manner. A conspiracy was said to be on foot
among the neighboring tribes to make a combined attack upon the
white men, now that they were so reduced in number. For this
purpose there had been a gathering of warriors in a neighboring
bay, under pretex of fishing for sturgeon; and fleets of canoes
were expected to join them from the north and South. Even
Comcomly, the one-eyed chief, notwithstanding his professed
friendship for Mr. M'Dougal, was strongly suspected of being
concerned in this general combination.

Alarmed at rumors of this impending danger, the Astorians
suspended their regular labor, and set to work, with all haste,
to throw up temporary works for refuge and defense. In the course
of a few days they surrounded their dwelling-house and magazines
with a picket fence ninety feet square, flanked by two bastions,
on which were mounted four four-pounders. Every day they
exercised themselves in the use of their weapons, so as to
qualify themselves for military duty, and at night ensconced
themselves in their fortress and posted sentinels, to guard
against surprise. In this way they hoped, even in case of attack,
to be able to hold out until the arrival of the party to be
conducted by Mr. Hunt across the Rocky Mountains, or until the
return of the Tonquin. The latter dependence, however, was doomed
soon to be destroyed. Early in August, a wandering band of
savages from the Strait of Juan de Fuca made their appearance at
the mouth of the Columbia, where they came to fish for sturgeon.
They brought disastrous accounts of the Tonquin, which were at
first treated as fables, but which were too sadly confirmed by a
different tribe that arrived a few days subsequently. We shall
relate the circumstances of this melancholy affair as correctly
as the casual discrepancies in the statements that have reached
us will permit.

We have already stated that the Tonquin set sail from the mouth
of the river on the fifth of June. The whole number of persons on
board amounted to twenty-three. In one of the outer bays they
picked up, from a fishing canoe, an Indian named Lamazee, who had
already made two voyages along the coast and knew something of
the language of the various tribes. He agreed to accompany them
as interpreter.

Steering to the north, Captain Thorn arrived in a few days at
Vancouver's Island, and anchored in the harbor of Neweetee, very
much against the advice of his Indian interpreter, who warned him
against the perfidious character of the natives of this part of
the coast. Numbers of canoes soon came off, bringing sea-otter
skins to sell. It was too late in the day to commence a traffic,
but Mr. M'Kay, accompanied by a few of the men, went on shore to
a large village to visit Wicananish, the chief of the surrounding
territory, six of the natives remaining on board as hostages. He
was received with great professions of friendship, entertained
hospitably, and a couch of sea-otter skins prepared for him in
the dwelling of the chieftain, where he was prevailed upon to
pass the night.

In the morning, before Mr. M'Kay had returned to the ship, great
numbers of the natives came off in their canoes to trade, headed
by two sons of Wicananish. As they brought abundance of sea-otter
skins, and there was every appearance of a brisk trade, Captain
Thorn did not wait for the return of Mr. M'Kay, but spread his
wares upon the deck, making a tempting display of blankets,
cloths, knives, beads, and fish-hooks, expecting a prompt and
profitable sale. The Indians, however, were not so eager and
simple as he had supposed, having learned the art of bargaining
and the value of merchandise from the casual traders along the
coast. They were guided, too, by a shrewd old chief named
Nookamis, who had grown gray in traffic with New England
skippers, and prided himself upon his acuteness. His opinion
seemed to regulate the market. When Captain Thorn made what he
considered a liberal offer for an otter-skin, the wily old Indian
treated it with scorn, and asked more than double. His comrades
all took their cue from him, and not an otter-skin was to be had
at a reasonable rate.

The old fellow, however, overshot his mark, and mistook the
character of the man he was treating with. Thorn was a plain,
straightforward sailor, who never had two minds nor two prices in
his dealings, was deficient in patience and pliancy, and totally
wanting in the chicanery of traffic. He had a vast deal of stern
but honest pride in his nature, and, moreover, held the whole
savage race in sovereign contempt. Abandoning all further
attempts, therefore, to bargain with his shuffling customers, he
thrust his hands into his pockets, and paced up and down the deck
in sullen silence. The cunning old Indian followed him to and
fro, holding out a sea-otter skin to him at every turn, and
pestering him to trade. Finding other means unavailing, he
suddenly changed his tone, and began to jeer and banter him upon
the mean prices he offered. This was too much for the patience of
the captain, who was never remarkable for relishing a joke,
especially when at his own expense. Turning suddenly upon his
persecutor, he snatched the proffered otter-skin from his hands,
rubbed it in his face, and dismissed him over the side of the
ship with no very complimentary application to accelerate his
exit. He then kicked the peltries to the right and left about
the deck, and broke up the market in the most ignominious manner.
Old Nookamis made for shore in a furious passion, in which he was
joined by Shewish, one of the sons of Wicananish, who went off
breathing vengeance, and the ship was soon abandoned by the

When Mr. M'Kay returned on board, the interpreter related what
had passed, and begged him to prevail upon the captain to make
sail, as from his knowledge of the temper and pride of the people
of the place, he was sure they would resent the indignity offered
to one of their chiefs. Mr. M'Kay, who himself possessed some
experience of Indian character, went to the captain, who was
still pacing the deck in moody humor, represented the danger to
which his hasty act had exposed the vessel, and urged him to
weigh anchor. The captain made light of his counsels, and pointed
to his cannon and fire-arms as sufficient safeguard against naked
savages. Further remonstrances only provoked taunting replies and
sharp altercations. The day passed away without any signs of
hostility, and at night the captain retired as usual to his
cabin, taking no more than the usual precautions.

On the following morning, at daybreak, while the captain and Mr.
M'Kay were yet asleep, a canoe came alongside in which were
twenty Indians, commanded by young Shewish. They were unarmed,
their aspect and demeanor friendly, and they held up otter-skins,
and made signs indicative of a wish to trade. The caution
enjoined by Mr. Astor, in respect to the admission of Indians on
board of the ship, had been neglected for some time past, and the
officer of the watch, perceiving those in the canoe to be without
weapons, and having received no orders to the contrary, readily
permitted them to mount the deck. Another canoe soon succeeded,
the crew of which was likewise admitted. In a little while other
canoes came off, and Indians were soon clambering into the vessel
on all sides.

The officer of the watch now felt alarmed, and called to Captain
Thorn and Mr. M'Kay. By the time they came on deck, it was
thronged with Indians. The interpreter noticed to Mr. M'Kay that
many of the natives wore short mantles of skins, and intimated a
suspicion that they were secretly armed. Mr. M'Kay urged the
captain to clear the ship and get under way. He again made light
of the advice; but the augmented swarm of canoes about the ship,
and the numbers still putting off from shore, at length awakened
his distrust, and he ordered some of the crew to weigh anchor,
while some were sent aloft to make sail.

The Indians now offered to trade with the captain on his own
terms, prompted, apparently, by the approaching departure of the
ship. Accordingly, a hurried trade was commenced. The main
articles sought by the savages in barter were knives; as fast as
some were supplied they moved off, and others succeeded. By
degrees they were thus distributed about the deck, and all with

The anchor was now nearly up, the sails were loose, and the
captain, in a loud and peremptory tone, ordered the ship to be
cleared. In an instant, a signal yell was given; it was echoed on
every side, knives and war-clubs were brandished in every
direction, and the savages rushed upon their marked victims.

The first that fell was Mr. Lewis, the ship's clerk. He was
leaning, with folded arms, over a bale of blankets, engaged in
bargaining, when he received a deadly stab in the back, and fell
down the companion-way.

Mr. M'Kay, who was seated on the taffrail, sprang on his feet,
but was instantly knocked down with a war-club and flung
backwards into the sea, where he was despatched by the women in
the canoes.

In the meantime Captain Thorn made desperate fight against
fearful odds. He was a powerful as well as a resolute man, but he
had come upon deck without weapons. Shewish, the young chief
singled him out as his peculiar prey, and rushed upon him at the
first outbreak. The captain had barely time to draw a clasp-knife
with one blow of which he laid the young savage dead at his feet.
Several of the stoutest followers of Shewish now set upon him. He
defended himself vigorously, dealing crippling blows to right and
left, and strewing the quarter-deck with the slain and wounded.
His object was to fight his way to the cabin, where there were
fire-arms; but he was hemmed in with foes, covered with wounds,
and faint with loss of blood. For an instant he leaned upon the
tiller wheel, when a blow from behind, with a war-club, felled
him to the deck, where he was despatched with knives and thrown

While this was transacting upon the quarter-deck, a chance-medley
fight was going on throughout the ship. The crew fought
desperately with knives, handspikes, and whatever weapon they
could seize upon in the moment of surprise. They were soon,
however, overpowered by numbers, and mercilessly butchered.

As to the seven who had been sent aloft to make sail, they
contemplated with horror the carnage that was going on below.
Being destitute of weapons, they let themselves down by the
running rigging, in hopes of getting between decks. One fell in
the attempt, and was instantly despatched; another received a
death-blow in the back as he was descending; a third, Stephen
Weekes, the armorer, was mortally wounded as he was getting down
the hatchway.

The remaining four made good their retreat into the cabin, where
they found Mr. Lewis, still alive, though mortally wounded.
Barricading the cabin door, they broke holes through the
companion-way, and, with the muskets and ammunition which were at
hand, opened a brisk fire that soon cleared the deck.

Thus far the Indian interpreter, from whom these particulars are
derived, had been an eye-witness to the deadly conflict. He had
taken no part in it, and had been spared by the natives as being
of their race. In the confusion of the moment he took refuge with
the rest, in the canoes. The survivors of the crew now sallied
forth, and discharged some of the deck-guns, which did great
execution among the canoes, and drove all the savages to shore.

For the remainder of the day no one ventured to put off to the
ship, deterred by the effects of the fire-arms. The night passed
away without any further attempts on the part of the natives.
When the day dawned, the Tonquin still lay at anchor in the bay,
her sails all loose and flapping in the wind, and no one
apparently on board of her. After a time, some of the canoes
ventured forth to reconnoitre, taking with them the interpreter.

They paddled about her, keeping cautiously at a distance, but
growing more and more emboldened at seeing her quiet and
lifeless. One man at length made his appearance on the deck, and
was recognized by the interpreter as Mr. Lewis. He made friendly
signs, and invited them on board. It was long before they
ventured to comply. Those who mounted the deck met with no
opposition; no one was to be seen on board; for Mr. Lewis, after
inviting them, had disappeared. Other canoes now pressed forward
to board the prize; the decks were soon crowded, and the sides
covered with clambering savages, all intent on plunder. In the
midst of their eagerness and exultation, the ship blew up with a
tremendous explosion. Arms, legs, and mutilated bodies were blown
into the air, and dreadful havoc was made in the surrounding
canoes. The interpreter was in the main-chains at the time of the
explosion, and was thrown unhurt into the water, where he
succeeded in getting into one of the canoes. According to his
statement, the bay presented an awful spectacle after the
catastrophe. The ship had disappeared, but the bay was covered
with fragments of the wreck, with shattered canoes, and Indians
swimming for their lives, or struggling in the agonies of death;
while those who had escaped the danger remained aghast and
stupefied, or made with frantic panic for the shore. Upwards of a
hundred savages were destroyed by the explosion, many more were
shockingly mutilated, and for days afterwards the limbs and
bodies of the slain were thrown upon the beach.

The inhabitants of Neweetee were overwhelmed with consternation
at this astounding calamity, which had burst upon them in the
very moment of triumph. The warriors sat mute and mournful, while
the women filled the air with loud lamentations. Their weeping
and walling, however, was suddenly changed into yells of fury at
the sight of four unfortunate white men, brought captive into the
village. They had been driven on shore in one of the ship's
boats, and taken at some distance along the coast.

The interpreter was permitted to converse with them. They proved
to be the four brave fellows who had made such desperate defense
from the cabin. The interpreter gathered from them some of the
particulars already related. They told him further, that after
they had beaten off the enemy and cleared the ship, Lewis advised
that they should slip the cable and endeavor to get to sea. They
declined to take his advice, alleging that the wind set too
strongly into the bay and would drive them on shore. They
resolved, as soon as it was dark, to put off quietly in the
ship's boat, which they would be able to do unperceived, and to
coast along back to Astoria. They put their resolution into
effect; but Lewis refused to accompany them, being disabled by
his wound, hopeless of escape, and determined on a terrible
revenge. On the voyage out, he had repeatedly expressed a
presentiment that he should die by his own hands; thinking it
highly probable that he should be engaged in some contest with
the natives, and being resolved, in case of extremity, to commit
suicide rather than be made a prisoner. He now declared his
intention to remain on board of the ship until daylight, to decoy
as many of the savages on board as possible, then to set fire to
the powder magazine, and terminate his life by a signal of
vengeance. How well he succeeded has been shown. His companions
bade him a melancholy adieu, and set off on their precarious
expedition. They strove with might and main to get out of the
bay, but found it impossible to weather a point of land, and were
at length compelled to take shelter in a small cove, where they
hoped to remain concealed until the wind should be more
favorable. Exhausted by fatigue and watching, they fell into a
sound sleep, and in that state were surprised by the savages.
Better had it been for those unfortunate men had they remained
with Lewis, and shared his heroic death: as it was, they perished
in a more painful and protracted manner, being sacrificed by the
natives to the manes of their friends with all the lingering
tortures of savage cruelty. Some time after their death, the
interpreter, who had remained a kind of prisoner at large,
effected his escape, and brought the tragical tidings to Astoria.

Such is the melancholy story of the Tonquin, and such was the
fate of her brave but headstrong commander, and her adventurous
crew. It is a catastrophe that shows the importance, in all
enterprises of moment, to keep in mind the general instructions
of the sagacious heads which devise them. Mr. Astor was well
aware of the perils to which ships were exposed on this coast
from quarrels with the natives, and from perfidious attempts of
the latter to surprise and capture them in unguarded moments. He
had repeatedly enjoined it upon Captain Thorn, in conversation,
and at parting, in his letter of instructions, to be courteous
and kind in his dealings with the savages, but by no means to
confide in their apparent friendship, nor to admit more than a
few on board of his ship at a time.

Had the deportment of Captain Thorn been properly regulated, the
insult so wounding to savage pride would never have been given.
Had he enforced the rule to admit but a few at a time, the
savages would not have been able to get the mastery. He was too
irritable, however, to practice the necessary self-command, and,
having been nurtured in a proud contempt of danger, thought it
beneath him to manifest any fear of a crew of unarmed savages.

With all his faults and foibles, we cannot but speak of him with
esteem, and deplore his untimely fate; for we remember him well
in early life, as a companion in pleasant scenes and joyous
hours. When on shore, among his friends, he was a frank, manly,
sound-hearted sailor. On board ship he evidently assumed the
hardness of deportment and sternness of demeanor which many deem
essential to naval service. Throughout the whole of the
expedition, however, he showed himself loyal, single-minded,
straightforward, and fearless; and if the fate of his vessel may
be charged to his harshness and imprudence, we should recollect
that he paid for his error with his life.

The loss of the Tonquin was a grievous blow to the infant
establishment of Astoria, and one that threatened to bring after
it a train of disasters. The intelligence of it did not reach Mr.
Astor until many months afterwards. He felt it in all its force,
and was aware that it must cripple, if not entirely defeat, the
great scheme of his ambition. In his letters, written at the
time, he speaks of it as "a calamity, the length of which he
could not foresee." He indulged, however, in no weak and vain
lamentation, but sought to devise a prompt and efficient remedy.
The very same evening he appeared at the theatre with his usual
serenity of countenance. A friend, who knew the disastrous
intelligence he had received, expressed his astonishment that he
could have calmness of spirit sufficient for such a scene of
light amusement. "What would you have me do?" was his
characteristic reply; "would you have me stay at home and weep
for what I cannot help?"


Gloom at Astoria- An Ingenious Stratagem.- The Small-Pox Chief. -
Launching of the Dolly.-An Arrival. - A Canadian Trapper.-A
Freeman of the Forest- An Iroquois Hunter.- Winter on the
Columbia.-Festivities of New Year.

THE tidings of the loss of the Tonquin, and the massacre of her
crew, struck dismay into the hearts of the Astorians. They found
themselves a mere handful of men, on a savage coast, surrounded
by hostile tribes, who would doubtless be incited and encouraged
to deeds of violence by the late fearful catastrophe. In this
juncture Mr. M'Dougal, we are told, had recourse to a stratagem
by which to avail himself of the ignorance and credulity of the
savages, and which certainly does credit to his ingenuity.

The natives of the coast, and, indeed, of all the regions west of
the mountains, had an extreme dread of the small-pox; that
terrific scourge having, a few years previously, appeared among
them, and almost swept off entire tribes. Its origin and nature
were wrapped in mystery, and they conceived it an evil inflicted
upon them by the Great Spirit, or brought among them by the white
men. The last idea was seized upon by Mr. M'Dougal. He assembled
several of the chieftains whom he believed to be in the
conspiracy. When they were all seated around, he informed them
that he had heard of the treachery of some of their northern
brethren towards the Tonquin, and was determined on vengeance.
"The white men among you," said he, "are few in number, it is
true, but they are mighty in medicine. See here," continued he,
drawing forth a small bottle and holding it before their eyes,
"in this bottle I hold the small-pox, safely corked up; I have
but to draw the cork, and let loose the pestilence, to sweep man,
woman, and child from the face of the earth."

The chiefs were struck with horror and alarm. They implored him
not to uncork the bottle, since they and all their people were
firm friends of the white men, and would always remain so; but,
should the small-pox be once let out, it would run like wildfire
throughout the country, sweeping off the good as well as the bad;
and surely he would not be so unjust as to punish his friends for
crimes committed by his enemies.

Mr. M'Dougal pretended to be convinced by their reasoning, and
assured them that, so long as the white people should be
unmolested, and the conduct of their Indian neighbors friendly
and hospitable, the phial of wrath should remain sealed up; but,
on the least hostility, the fatal cork should be drawn.

From this time, it is added, he was much dreaded by the natives,
as one who held their fate in his hands, and was called, by way
of preeminence, "the Great Small-pox Chief."

All this while, the labors at the infant settlement went on with
unremitting assiduity, and, by the 26th of September, a
commodious mansion, spacious enough to accommodate all hands, was
completed. It was built of stone and clay, there being no
calcarcous stone in the neighborhood from which lime for mortar
could be procured. The schooner was also finished, and launched,
with the accustomed ceremony, on the second of October, and took
her station below the fort. She was named the Dolly, and was the
first American vessel launched on this coast.

On the 5th of October, in the evening, the little community at
Astoria was enlivened by the unexpected arrival of a detachment
from Mr. David Stuart's post on the Oakinagan. It consisted of
two of the clerks and two of the privates. They brought favorable
accounts of the new establishment, but reported that, as Mr.
Stuart was apprehensive there might be a difficulty of subsisting
his whole party throughout the winter, he had sent one half back
to Astoria, retaining with him only Ross, Montigny, and two
others. Such is the hardihood of the Indian trader. In the heart
of a savage and unknown country, seven hundred miles from the
main body of his fellow-adventurers, Stuart had dismissed half of
his little number, and was prepared with the residue to brave all
the perils of the wilderness, and the rigors of a long and dreary

With the return party came a Canadian creole named Regis Brugiere
and an Iroquois hunter, with his wife and two children. As these
two personages belong to certain classes which have derived their
peculiar characteristics from the fur trade, we deem some few
particulars concerning them pertinent to the nature of this work.

Brugiere was of a class of beaver trappers and hunters
technically called "Freemen," in the language of the traders.
They are generally Canadians by birth, and of French descent, who
have been employed for a term of years by some fur company, but,
their term being expired, continue to hunt and trap on their own
account, trading with the company like the Indians. Hence they
derive their appellation of Freemen, to distinguish them from the
trappers who are bound for a number of years, and receive wages,
or hunt on shares.

Having passed their early youth in the wilderness, separated
almost entirely from civilized man, and in frequent intercourse
with the Indians, they relapse, with a facility common to human
nature, into the habitudes of savage life. Though no longer bound
by engagements to continue in the interior, they have become so
accustomed to the freedom of the forest and the prairie, that
they look back with repugnance upon the restraints of
civilization. Most of them intermarry with the natives, and, like
the latter, have often a plurality of wives. Wanderers of the
wilderness, according to the vicissitudes of the seasons, the
migrations of animals, and the plenty or scarcity of game, they
lead a precarious and unsettled existence; exposed to sun and
storm, and all kinds of hardships, until they resemble Indians in
complexion as well as in tastes and habits. From time to time,
they bring the peltries they have collected to the trading houses
of the company in whose employ they have been brought up. Here
they traffic them away for such articles of merchandise or
ammunition as they may stand in need of. At the time when
Montreal was the great emporium of the fur trader, one of these
freemen of the wilderness would suddenly return, after an absence
of many years, among his old friends and comrades. He would be
greeted as one risen from the dead; and with the greater welcome,
as he returned flush of money. A short time, however, spent in
revelry, would be sufficient to drain his purse and sate him with
civilized life, and he would return with new relish to the
unshackled freedom of the forest.

Numbers of men of this class were scattered throughout the
northwest territories. Some of them retained a little of the
thrift and forethought of the civilized man, and became wealthy
among their improvident neighbors; their wealth being chiefly
displayed in large bands of horses, which covered the prairies in
the vicinity of their abodes. Most of them, however, were prone
to assimilate to the red man in their heedlessness of the future.

Such was Regis Brugiere, a freeman and rover of the wilderness.
Having been brought up in the service of the Northwest Company,
he had followed in the train of one of its expeditions across the
Rocky Mountains, and undertaken to trap for the trading post
established on the Spokan River. In the course of his hunting
excursions he had either accidentally, or designedly, found his
way to the post of Mr. Stuart, and had been prevailed upon to
ascend the Columbia, and "try his luck" at Astoria.

Ignace Shonowane, the Iroquois hunter, was a specimen of a
different class. He was one of those aboriginals of Canada who
had partially conformed to the habits of civilization and the
doctrines of Christianity, under the influence of the French
colonists and the Catholic priests; who seem generally to have
been more successful in conciliating, taming, and converting the
savages, than their English and Protestant rivals. These half-
civilized Indians retained some of the good, and many of the evil
qualities of their original stock. They were first-rate hunters,
and dexterous in the management of the canoe. They could undergo
great privations, and were admirable for the service of the
rivers, lakes, and forests, provided they could be kept sober,
and in proper subordination; but once inflamed with liquor, to
which they were madly addicted, all the dormant passions inherent
in their nature were prone to break forth, and to hurry them into
the most vindictive and bloody acts of violence.

Though they generally professed the Roman Catholic religion, yet
it was mixed, occasionally, with some of their ancient
superstitions; and they retained much of the Indian belief in
charms and omens. Numbers of these men were employed by the
Northwest Company as trappers, hunters, and canoe men, but on
lower terms than were allowed to white men. Ignace Shonowane had,
in this way, followed the enterprise of the company to the banks
of the Spokan, being, probably, one of the first of his tribe
that had traversed the Rocky Mountains.

Such were some of the motley populace of the wilderness, incident
to the fur trade, who were gradually attracted to the new
settlement of Astoria.

The month of October now began to give indications of approaching
winter. Hitherto, the colonists had been well pleased with the
climate. The summer had been temperate, the mercury never rising
above eighty degrees. Westerly winds had prevailed during the
spring and the early part of the summer, and been succeeded by
fresh breezes from the northwest. In the month of October the
southerly winds set in, bringing with them frequent rain.

The Indians now began to quit the borders of the ocean, and to
retire to their winter quarters in the sheltered bosom of the
forests, or along the small rivers and brooks. The rainy season,
which commences in October, continues, with little intermission,
until April; and though the winters are generally mild, the
mercury seldom sinking below the freezing point, yet the tempests
of wind and rain are terrible. The sun is sometimes obscured for
weeks, the brooks swell into roaring torrents, and the country is
threatened with a deluge.

The departure of the Indians to their winter quarters gradually
rendered provisions scanty, and obliged the colonists to send out
foraging expeditions in the Dolly. Still the little handful of
adventurers kept up their spirits in their lonely fort at
Astoria, looking forward to the time when they should be animated
and reinforced by the party under Mr. Hunt, that was to come to
them across the Rocky Mountains.

The year gradually wore way. The rain, which had poured down
almost incessantly since the first of October, cleared up towards
the evening of the 31st of December, and the morning of the first
of January ushered in a day of sunshine.

The hereditary French holiday spirit of the French voyageurs is
hardly to be depressed by any adversities; and they can manage to
get up a fete in the most squalid situations, and under the most
untoward circumstances. An extra allowance of rum, and a little
flour to make cakes and puddings, constitute a "regale;" and they
forget all their toils and troubles in the song and dance.

On the present occasion, the partners endeavored to celebrate the
new year with some effect. At sunrise the drums beat to arms, the
colors were hoisted, with three rounds of small arms and three
discharges of cannon. The day was devoted to games of agility and
strength, and other amusements; and grog was temperately
distributed, together with bread, butter, and cheese. The best
dinner their circumstances could afford was served up at midday.
At sunset the colors were lowered, with another discharge of
artillery. The night was spent in dancing; and, though there was
a lack of female partners to excite their gallantry, the
voyageurs kept up the ball with true French spirit, until three
o'clock in the morning. So passed the new year festival of 1812
at the infant colony of Astoria.

Expedition by Land.- Wilson P. Hunt.- His Character.- Donald
M'Kenzie.- Recruiting Service Among the Voyageurs. - A Bark
Canoe.- Chapel of St. Anne.-Votive Offerings.- Pious Carousals, -
A Ragged Regiment.-Mackinaw.- Picture of a Trading Post.-
Frolicking Voyageurs.-Swells and Swaggerers.- Indian Coxcombs.-A
Man of the North.-Jockeyship of Voyageurs- Inefficacy of Gold.-
Weight of a Feather- Mr. Ramsay Crooks- His Character.- His Risks
Among the Indians.-His Warning Concerning Sioux and Blackfeet.-
Embarkation of Recruits.- Parting Scenes Between Brothers,
Cousins, Wives, Sweethearts, and Pot Companions.

WE have followed up the fortunes of the maritime part of this
enterprise to the shores of the Pacific, and have conducted the
affairs of the embryo establishment to the opening of the new
year; let us now turn back to the adventurous band to whom was
intrusted the land expedition, and who were to make their way to
the mouth of the Columbia, up vast rivers, across trackless
plains, and over the rugged barriers of the Rocky Mountains.

The conduct of this expedition, as has been already mentioned,
was assigned to Mr. Wilson Price Hunt, of Trenton, New Jersey,
one of the partners of the company, who was ultimately to be at
the head of the establishment at the mouth of the Columbia. He is
represented as a man scrupulously upright and faithful his
dealings, amicable in his disposition, and of most accommodating
manners; and his whole conduct will be found in unison with such
a character. He was not practically experienced in the Indian
trade; that is to say, he had never made any expeditions of
traffic into the heart of the wilderness, but he had been engaged
in commerce at St. Louis, then a frontier settlement on the
Mississippi, where the chief branch of his business had consisted
in furnishing Indian traders with goods and equipments. In this
way, he had acquired much knowledge of the trade at second hand,
and of the various tribes, and the interior country over which it

Another of the partners, Mr. Donald M'Kenzie, was associated with
Mr. Hunt in the expedition, and excelled on those points in which
the other was deficient; for he had been ten years in the
interior, in the service of the Northwest Company, and valued
himself on his knowledge of "woodcraft," and the strategy of
Indian trade and Indian warfare. He had a frame seasoned to toils
and hardships; a spirit not to be intimidated, and was reputed to
be a "remarkable shot;" which of itself was sufficient to give
him renown upon the frontier.

Mr. Hunt and his coadjutor repaired, about the latter part of
July, 1810, to Montreal, the ancient emporium of the fur trade
where everything requisite for the expedition could be procured.
One of the first objects was to recruit a complement of Canadian
voyageurs from the disbanded herd usually to be found loitering
about the place. A degree of jockeyship, however, is required for
this service, for a Canadian voyageur is as full of latent tricks
and vice as a horse; and when he makes the greatest external
promise, is prone to prove the greatest "take in." Besides, the
Northwest Company, who maintained a long established control at
Montreal, and knew the qualities of every voyageur, secretly
interdicted the prime hands from engaging in this new service; so
that, although liberal terms were offered, few presented
themselves but such as were not worth having.

From these Mr. Hunt engaged a number sufficient, as he supposed,
for present purposes; and, having laid in a supply of ammunition,
provisions, and Indian goods, embarked all on board one of those
great canoes at that time universally used by the fur traders for
navigating the intricate and often-obstructed rivers. The canoe
was between thirty and forty feet long, and several feet in
width; constructed of birch bark, sewed with fibres of the roots
of the spruce tree, and daubed with resin of the pine, instead of
tar. The cargo was made up in packages, weighing from ninety to
one hundred pounds each, for the facility of loading and
unloading, and of transportation at portages. The canoe itself,
though capable of sustaining a freight of upwards of four tons,
could readily be carried on men's shoulders. Canoes of this size
are generally managed by eight or ten men, two of whom are picked
veterans, who receive double wages, and are stationed, one at the
bow and the other at the stern, to keep a look-out and to steer.
They are termed the foreman and the steersman. The rest, who ply
the paddles, are called middle men. When there is a favorable
breeze, the canoe is occasionally navigated with a sail.

The expedition took its regular departure, as usual, from St.
Anne's, near the extremity of the island of Montreal, the great
starting-place of the traders to the interior. Here stood the
ancient chapel of St. Anne, the patroness of the Canadian
voyageurs; where they made confession, and offered up their vows,
previous to departing on any hazardous expedition. The shrine of
the saint was decorated with relics and votive offerings hung up
by these superstitious beings, either to propitiate her favor, or
in gratitude for some signal deliverance in the wilderness. It
was the custom, too, of these devout vagabonds, after leaving the
chapel, to have a grand carouse, in honor of the saint and for
the prosperity of the voyage. In this part of their devotions,
the crew of Mr. Hunt proved themselves by no means deficient.
Indeed, he soon discovered that his recruits, enlisted at
Montreal, were fit to vie with the ragged regiment of Falstaff.
Some were able-bodied, but inexpert; others were expert, but
lazy; while a third class were expert and willing, but totally
worn out, being broken-down veterans, incapable of toil.

With this inefficient crew he made his way up the Ottawa River,
and by the ancient route of the fur traders, along a succession
of small lakes and rivers, to Michilimackinac. Their progress was
slow and tedious. Mr. Hunt was not accustomed to the management
of "voyageurs," and he had a crew admirably disposed to play the
old soldier, and balk their work; and ever ready to come to a
halt, land, make a fire, put on the great pot, and smoke, and
gossip, and sing by the hour.

It was not until the 22d of July that they arrived at Mackinaw,
situated on the island of the same name, at the confluence of -

lakes Huron and Michigan. This famous old French trading post
continued to be a rallying point for a multifarious and motley
population. The inhabitants were amphibious in their habits, most
of them being, or having been voyageurs or canoe men. It was the
great place of arrival and departure of the southwest fur trade.
Here the Mackinaw Company had established its principal post,
from whence it communicated with the interior and with Montreal.
Hence its various traders and trappers set out for their
respective destinations about Lake Superior and its tributary
waters, or for the Mississippi, the Arkansas, the Missouri, and
the other regions of the west. Here, after the absence of a year,
or more, they returned with their peltries, and settled their
accounts; the furs rendered in by them being transmitted in
canoes from hence to Montreal. Mackinaw was, therefore, for a
great part of the year, very scantily peopled; but at certain
seasons the traders arrived from all points, with their crews of
voyageurs, and the place swarmed like a hive.

Mackinaw, at that time, was a mere village, stretching along a
small bay, with a fine broad beach in front of its principal row
of houses, and dominated by the old fort, which crowned an
impending height. The beach was a kind of public promenade where
were displayed all the vagaries of a seaport on the arrival of a
fleet from a long cruise. Here voyageurs frolicked away their
wages, fiddling and dancing in the booths and cabins, buying all
kinds of knick-knacks, dressing themselves out finely, and
parading up and down, like arrant braggarts and coxcombs.
Sometimes they met with rival coxcombs in the young Indians from
the opposite shore, who would appear on the beach painted and
decorated in fantastic style, and would saunter up and down, to
be gazed at and admired, perfectly satisfied that they eclipsed
their pale-faccd competitors.

Now and then a chance party of "Northwesters" appeared at
Mackinaw from the rendezvous at Fort William. These held
themselves up as the chivalry of the fur trade. They were men of
iron; proof against cold weather, hard fare, and perils of all
kinds. Some would wear the Northwest button, and a formidable
dirk, and assume something of a military air. They generally wore
feathers in their hats, and affected the "brave." "Je suis un
homme du nord!"-"I am a man of the north,"-one of these swelling
fellows would exclaim, sticking his arms akimbo and ruffling by
the Southwesters, whom he regarded with great contempt, as men
softened by mild climates and the luxurious fare of bread and
bacon, and whom he stigmatized with the inglorious name of pork-
eaters. The superiority assumed by these vainglorious swaggerers
was, in general, tacitly admitted. Indeed, some of them had
acquired great notoriety for deeds of hardihood and courage; for
the fur trade had Its heroes, whose names resounded throughout
the wilderness.

Such was Mackinaw at the time of which we are treating. It now,
doubtless, presents a totally different aspect. The fur companies
no longer assemble there; the navigation of the lake is carried
on by steamboats and various shipping, and the race of traders,
and trappers, and voyageurs, and Indian dandies, have vapored out
their brief hour and disappeared. Such changes does the lapse of
a handful of years make in this ever-changing country.

At this place Mr. Hunt remained for some time, to complete his
assortment of Indian goods, and to increase his number of
voyageurs, as well as to engage some of a more efficient
character than those enlisted at Montreal.

And now commenced another game of Jockeyship. There were able and
efficient men in abundance at Mackinaw, but for several days not

Book of the day: