Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

Although from the nature of the case me might expect this work to be rather dry, yet we understand it has been found not only useful, but interesting, in several of our best schools where it has been used. In point of mechanical execution the book is admirable. It is printed with great neatness, on beautiful paper, and in a style altogether above that of ordinary school books. And for this too, as well as for the internal excellences of this Epitome,' we feel much obliged to Mr Cleaveland. The miserable system of printing school books on the poorest paper, and in the cheapest possible manner, is gradually giving way to a more enlightened economy, and a better taste in the community.

[ocr errors]

Should we notice any thing in this manual as subject of improvement, it would be the want of a little more fulness in some parts. In selecting and abridging from materials so copious as those which offered themselves in the present case, it is extremely difficult to hit the happy medium. The danger is of being too diffuse, and of swelling the volume beyond the size convenient for schools. In attempting to avoid this, the author has, we think, erred on the other side, and reduced his subject occasionally to an unnecessary leanness. But this defect may easily be supplied in a future edition. We have discovered several errors of the press; but perhaps not more than ought to be expected in the first impression of a work of this kind. We consider this little work highly creditable to Mr Cleaveland, and a valuable auxiliary to our classical seminaries; and we are happy in having an opportunity of recommending it to the attention of teachers of the ancient classics.

ART. XIII. The Substance of a Journal during a Residence at the Red River Colony, British North America; and frequent Excursions among the Northwest American Indians in the years 1820, 1821, 1822, 1823. Second Edition enlarged with a Journal of a Mission to the Indians of New Brunswick, and Novascotia, and the Mohawks on the Ouse or Grand River, Upper Canada, 1825, 1826. By JOHN WEST, A. M. Late Chaplain to the Honorable the Hudson's Bay Company.

We have here two Journals of an English clergyman, while in performance of his duties as chaplain to the Hudson Bay com

pany, and afterwards on a mission to the Indians, in some of the other British possessions on this continent. The author appears to have been actuated by a pious spirit, which is constantly shining through his pages; and his work affords considerable information concerning the territories occupied by the British fur traders, as also the state of the Indians, which it appears, is wretched enough. Nor can any other consequence ensue while they remain under the influence of trading companies, who have no object but gain, and whose cupidity in this pursuit will allow of no material melioration of their condition. Accordingly we find that our author's attempts to teach them the arts of civilized life, were discouraged by the agents of these companies, as tending to detach them from the pursuit of furs, and that a settlement commenced for this purpose had actually been destroyed. He succeeded however in obtaining several Indian children for instruction, and we are gratified to learn that the use of ardent spirits, as an article of trade, has been considerably diminished. It is to be hoped that the example of our government will be followed in prohibiting altogether this pregnant source of disease and wretchedness to the Indians.

[ocr errors]

Our author seems also to have met with some success in his attempts to introduce better habits among the settlers at the Red River colony, and the rites of baptism, and the marriage ceremony among the half breeds, a numerous class, which has sprung from the intercourse of the hunters with the Indian women, of whom we are told that it is the too common practice of the country, to put them away, after enjoying the morning of their days,' or desert them, to be taken by the Indians with their children, when the parties, who have cohabited with them, leave the Hudson's Bay companies territories.' West states that he had much difficulty in imparting religious instruction to this class of persons, from their speaking the Indian language only, their mother tongue.

Mr

We extract for the benefit of our readers the relation of our author's journey from York Factory on Hudson's Bay, where he first landed, to the settlement on Red River.

'The scenery throughout the passage is dull and monotonous (excepting a few points in some of the small lakes which are picturesque), till you reach the Company's port, Norway house, where a fine body of water bursts upon your view in lake Winnipeg. We found the voyage from the factory to this point, so sombre and dreary, that the sight of a horse grazing on the bank, greatly ex

hilirated us, in the association of the idea, that we were approaching some human habitation.

Oct. 6. The ground was covered with snow, and the weather most winterly, when we embarked in our open boats to cross the lake for the Red River. Its length from north to south, is about three hundred miles, and it abounds with sunken rocks, which are very dangerous to boats sailing in a fresh breeze. It is usual to run along shore, for the sake of an encampment at night, and of getting into a creek for shelter in case of a storm, and tempestuous weather. We had run about half the lake, when the boat under a press of sail, struck upon one of these rocks, with so much violence as to threaten our immediate destruction.'

The party, however, escaped shipwreck, and at length arrived at the destined point.

Lord Selkirk's colony on the Red River seems not to have thriven very rapidly, during our author's residence at it, having been reduced to great straits, and once or twice in imminent danger of starvation. The colonists are described as a compound of individuals of various countries, being chiefly Canadians and Germans, with a considerable portion of Scotch Highlanders.

In the winter season journies are performed in this region in sledges, drawn by dogs of the wolf kind. We subjoin an account of one of these excursions.

'I left the Forks in a cariole, drawn by three dogs, accompanied by a sledge with two dogs, to carry the luggage and provisions, and two men as drivers, on the fifteenth of January, for Brandon House and Qu'appelle on the Arsiniboin river. After we had travelled about fifteen miles, we stopped on the edge of a wood and bivouacked on the snow for the night. A large fire was soon kindled, and a supply of wood cut to keep it up. When supper was prepared and finished, I wrapped myself in my blankets and buffaloe robe, and laid down wit a few twigs under me in place of a bed, with my feet towards the fire, and slept soundly under the open canopy of heaven. The next morning we left our encampment before sunrise, and the country, as we passed, presented some beautiful points, and bluffs of wood. We started again early the following morning, which was intensely cold; and I had much difficulty in keeping my face from freezing, on my way to the encampment, rather late in the evening at the Portage de Prairie. In crossing the plain the next morning with a sharp head wind, my nose and part of my face were frozen quite hard and white.'

On this excursion, the party perceived some traces of the buffaloe, and the wolf was frequently seen following their track, or crossing in the line they were passing.

A long and severe winter is followed by a summer tending to the opposite extreme.

'July 2. An agreeable change has taken place in the scenery around us; the trees are breaking into leaves, and many plants are in bloom, where but a short time ago every thing bore the aspect of winter. But this almost sudden and pleasing change has brought an unceasing torment; night and day we are perpetually persecuted with the musquittoes, that swarm around us, and afford no rest but in the annoying respiration of a smoky room.'

20th. The weather is extremely hot, the thermometer more than 90° above zero. Vegetation is making an astonishingly rapid progress, and the grain in its luxuriant growth upon a rich soil, presents to the eye the fairest prospect of a good harvest. But the locust, an insec tvery like the large grasshopper, is beginning to make sad ravages, by destroying the crops, as it has done for the last three years at the settlement.'

The state of the Indians, who inhabit these inclement and desolate tracts, is the extreme of wretchedness,-some affecting descriptions of which are given by our author. He bears testimony also, to the custom, among some of the tribes, of exposing the aged and infirm, when unable to take care of themselves, who, we are told, are accustomed to consider it an act not of cruelty, but of mercy.

[ocr errors]

A little meat,' he observes, with an axe, and a small portion of tobacco, are generally left with them by their nearest relations, who in taking leave of them say, it is time for them to go into the other world, which they suppose lies just beyond the spot where the sun goes down, where they will be better taken care of, than with them, and then they walk away weeping. On the banks of the Saskashawan, an aged woman prevailed on her son to shoot her through the head, instead of adopting this sad extremity. She addressed him in a most pathetic manner, reminding him of the toil and care, with which she bore him on her back from camp to camp during his infancy; with what incessant labor she brought him up till he could use the bow and the gun; and having seen him a great warrior, she requested that he would show her kindness, and give a proof of his courage in shooting her, that she might go home to her relations. "I have seen many winters,' she added, "and have now become a burden, in not being able to assist in getting provisions; and dragging me through the country, as I am unable to walk, is a toil, and brings much distress ;—take your gun." She then drew her blanket over her head, and her son immediately deprived her of life; in the apparent consciousness of having done an act of filial duty and of mercy.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Our author's second journal contains a brief narrative of his mission to the Indians in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the remnant of the Mohawk tribe in Upper Canada, under the direction of the New England company, which was incorporated in the reign of Charles the Second. It contains little of interest, nor have we space for further extracts. We accordingly take leave of him here, not however without rendering him due acknowledgment for the entertainment his work has afforded us, which we have great satisfaction in recommending to the perusal of our readers. It relates to portions of our country less explored than almost any other parts of it, and its contents are consequently so much added to the stock of information on the subject of America.

NOTE.

An article on Bees, communicated for this number, has been unavoidably deferred till the next.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »