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piety, or theorising, or even explanation. He takes us forward a certain number of miles each day, kills some buffalo' and some elk,' faithfully deposes to the behaviour of the sky, that it rained or that it shined, discovers the bank of the river to be high or to be flat, sends out the hunters and fetches them in again, falls in with a troop of Indians, bids them good morning, and is immediately off, and so we proceed from the mouth of the Missouri to that of the Columbia, and with the utmost composure all the way back again. Any observations or inquiries of a scientific nature were out of the question in such a party and such an expedition; but it might have been expected that the grand appearances of the country, its wild aspect of unsubdued nature, the solemnity of its vast solitudes, the silence of its plains, the magnificence of its streams, the thunder of its cataracts, its endless changes of scenery, and the characters and manners of its few diminishing tribes of fierce and forlorn inhabitants, whose moral constitution reflects all that is stern and melancholy in the physical aspect of the wilderness in which they range, and who will probably, at no very distant period, become extinct, it really might have been expected that all this could not have been contemplated, by any man of ordinary cultivation and perception, with the invulnerable sedateness of our author. But perhaps this is the true philosophical spirit, after all. For, if we would only let ourselves think, what should these people of the desert be, but just so many men and women, with the very same number of limbs and eyes as ourselves? What is the amazing extent of the region, with all its varied forms and features, but so much earth, so much plain positive mud, covered indeed with trees and grass? What is the silence of the plains, but there being nobody there? What are great rivers, but the collection in vallies of quantities of water that will not stay on the hills? And then too, as to cataracts, if a quantity of water, in running along, comes to a steep place, what should it do but fall down; and when it does so, how should it help making a noise and a foam? is not this natural, and quite common?
With proper respect for the philosophic tone of Mr. Gass's mental system, we must however be allowed to hope, that the full account of the expedition to be given, if it is not published already, by one or both of the leaders, will supply a bolder history of the proceedings of this daring and indefatigable troop of adventurers, and more picturesque sketches of a country now disclosed, for the first time, to the view of the civilized world, and which we may venture to predict will not soon be invaded by another such expedition. Partly in order to render the accounts of the expedition
more complete, and partly in consideration of the extreme hazards which it was judged to involve, and which made it prudent to multiply the chances of obtaining any account at all, every individual of the party, who was in any degree competent, was enjoined to keep a journal. And really it is the least that can be done in the way of shewing the due respect and admiration of these intrepid adventurers, to let them all publish their separate journals, compared with some of which, it is very likely, the one before us might appear quite an author-like performance. The American publisher apologises for its plainness; but the reader will thank him for letting it escape clear of that finishing and trumpery, with which it seems he was within an inch of concluding it to be his duty to spoil the story.
In determining the form in which the work should appear, the pub lisher had some difficulty. Two plans presented themselves. The one was to preserve the form of a daily journal, (in which the original had been kept), and give a plain description of the country, and a simple relation of occurrences equally intelligible to all readers; leaving to every person an opportunity of embellishing the scenes presented to him, in his own way. The other plan was to more fully digest the subject, make the narrative more general, and, assuming less of the journal form and style, describe and clothe the principal parts of it as his fancy might suggest. However far the latter might have been proper, had a foreign country been the subject, and the principal object of the publication mere amusement, many objections occurred to it, in the present case; and rendered the former the most eligible, especially as by it the climate and face of the country will be more satisfactorily described. And Mr. Gass having declared, that the beauties and deformities of its grandest scenes were equally beyond the power of description, no attempts have been made, either by him or the publisher, to give adequate representations of them.' p. 8.
And so this modest and conscientious person would not have had the slightest consciousness of impudence and imposition in presuming, while lounging in his parlour, over his punch and tobacco, to describe and bepaint, and that too even without any documents, the most striking appearances between the Missisippi and the Pacific Ocean, and publishing this manufacture as the authentic account given by one of the travellers through that country!
The easiest way of informing our readers what the book contains, will be by a brief abstract of the narrative. The corps of discovery sent out by the American government was partly composed of the regular troops of the States, and partly of other men, engaged for this particular enterprise. It consisted of forty-three, including the commanders, Captains Lewis and Clarke, the respective proportions of whose authority, relatively to each other, are not stated. The expe
dition, embarked on board a batteau and two periogues, set out from its establishment at the mouth of the Wood river, near the confluence of the Missouri with the Mississippi, on the 14th of May, 1804. In the evening they stopped to encamp on the bank a few miles up the Missouri, where they fell, as it seems, to the very laudable employment of reflection, and the very necessary one of consolidating their resolution and courage.
Here we had leisure to reflect on our situation, and engagements: and as we had all entered this service as volunteers, to consider how far we stood pledged for the success of an expedition, which the government had projected, and which had been undertaken for the benefit and at the expence of the Union; of course of much interest and high expectation.
The best authenticated accounts informed us, that we were to pass through a country possessed by numerous, powerful and warlike nations of savages, of gigantic stature, fierce, treacherous and cruel; and particu larly hostile to white men. And fame had united with tradition in op posing mountains to our course, which human enterprize and exertion would attempt in vain to pass. The determined and resolute character, however, of the corps, and the confidence which pervaded all ranks, dispelled every emotion of fear and anxiety for the present; while a sense of duty, and of the honour which would attend the completion of the object of the expedition; a wish to gratify the expectations of the government, and of our fellow citizens, with the feelings which novelty and discovery invariably inspire, seemed to insure to us ample support in our future toils, suffering, and dangers.' p. 15*.
The voyage directly up the Missouri, from its mouth to what is called the Mandan village, where the party took up their winter-quarters, about the 47th degree of latitude, and the 101st of west longitude, may be considered as the first grand stage of the expedition. This voyage, being made against a strong current and the impediment of numberless sand-bars, took up between five and six laborious months; and, reckoning of course the windings of the river, was computed at about 1600 miles. Sometimes they were able, by the help of a favourable wind, to advance as much as 20 miles a day; but at other times with their utmost efforts they could not proceed more than four or five, and when the wind blew directly down the river they were compelled to remain stationary. Occasionally, when they could not be content to do this, they went forward a few miles by means of a tow-rope. A tolerable quantity of some kinds of provisions must have been laid in before they set out; but their chief dependence for subsistence was on their
*This paragraph was certainly not written by honest Patrick; it is a sample of the kind of work the American publisher would have made of it, if it had not been determined, probably because the said Patrick was obstinate, to print the journal nearly in its original state..
almost daily hunting along the forests bordering on the river; and never, surely, since that river first began to flow between those wild borders, had there been such havoc among the buffaloes, deer, elks, goats, and bears. We could have wished to know the ordinary size or weight of these animals, especially the buffaloes, whether they were swift, or strong, or fierce, and whether any degree of danger attended the hunting; but it was enough for our journalist that they were found, killed, and eaten, and that whatever number were destroyed to-day, there was a chance of finding some more to-morrow. The greater proportion of the corps must have been qualified for this hunting; we are not told whether there was any fixed rule as to which of them should be thus employed in succession; but some of them were almost constantly out, and under circumstances by which our sprigs of spirit, our bucks, bloods, volunteers, parade officers, and so forth, would have found the overflowings of their valour not a little repressed. Sometimes one of these adventurers alone, sometimes two or more, as it might happen, would quit the vessel, and plunge into the deepest recesses, of the trackless forests, where, as it would seem to us, they might lose all certainty as to the general direction of their course, where they might be in volved in morasses, where there might, for any thing they could know to the contrary, be prowling savages, and where there often were actually bears and wolves; and meanwhile the vessel would go forward, often many miles from the place where these hunters left it, without making, as far as we are here informed, any marks or signals by which, when they regained the bank, they could know whether it had passed or not. In these expeditions they frequently wandered miles away from the river, and remained all night unsheltered in the forest, in several instances, a number of days and nights sucessively. And niore than this, they had either to bring, from such
means for stances, their heavy loads of meat, or to contrive
means for knowing how to find it again, after they should reach the vessel and procure more hands to assist in taking it away,that is to say, if the wolves did not save them that trouble by devouring it in the mean time, which agreeable circumstance now and then happened. To do all this may be quite easy for those who are trained and accustomed to it; but we can sit by our little fire and farthing candle, and wonder that such men were not soon saved all further trouble about the business by being themselves devoured. Though familiarly acquainted, alas! with the force of hunger, we doubt whether we could on the strength of it have braved those gloomy forests, in so apparently abandoned a condition. The rival hunger which we should be expecting to encounter in bears and savages would be almost as terrible to us as our own.
In this very long voyage, the adventurers passed by the temporary encampments of several considerable tribes of Indians, the Sioux, the Rickarees, and the Mandans; in the neighbourhood of which last tribe they established their residence for the winter. With the exception of this tribe, their intercourse with the natives was very slight and transient, and the descriptions are, as we have intimated, brief, general, and undiscriminating. It is likely there were distinguishing characteristics peculiar to each nation; but it would never do for men who had to sweep several square leagues of wilderness each. day for their dinner, to be inquiring and speculating about national characters and Indian politics. Some branches of these redoubted communities of freemen were very kind to our voyagers; and they all comported themselves pretty well, on the whole, except that they had all the besetting sin of a thievish propensity. The idea we have acquired of these aborigines from our popular books is very much of a romantic cast; it is that of a race of beings separated by an immense chasm from the ordinary economy of nations, and even of human nature, and invested with a certain gloomy magnificence which quite overawes our spirits when we think of meeting them at the frontiers of their deserts. The austere gravity ascribed, the unconquerable independence, the pertinacity of design, the intensity of the greater passions, the enthusiasm of fraternity and patriotism, and the defiance of sufferings and death, combined with the dreadful ferocity, and the abode within an almost boundless desert, have constituted a character much more strange and striking than even that of the descendants of Romulus. But all these colours of the marvellous vanish, the instant we look at an Indian community through the medium of Mr. Gass's description. The beings that had appeared of such portentous aspect are just no more than a few gangs of rude dirty hunters, with courage enough certainly to set upon and kill and scalp one another, but not enough to withstand the menaces and resolute air of one of the captains of the expedition, who told a large party that in one instance seized him when on shore, apparently designing to detain him, that he had in his boat what would destroy twenty such nations as theirs in one day; on which the warriors let him go. Now Mr. Patrick Gass having, as we have said, beyond all living men, the knack of taming and subduing all fantastic, romantic, magnificent, and awe-inspiring' ideas, being the completest extinguisher of fancy that ever beheld or related wonderful things, we are at liberty to believe that this savage race have a much more singular and striking character than his short descriptions would give us to apprehend; while, on the other hand, we may fairly conclude there is a great