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As I looked round upon the scene, my heart yearned at the recollection of my departed friend, and I wistfully eyed the mansion which he had inhabited, and which was fast mouldering to decay. The thought struck me to arrest the desolating hand of Time; to rescue the historic pile from utter ruin, and to make it the closing scene of my wanderings; a quiet home, where I might enjoy “lust in rust' for the remainder of my days. It is true, the fate of the unlucky Wolfert passed across my mind; but I consoled myself with the reflection that I was a bachelor, and that I had no termagant wife to dispute the sovereignty of the Roost with me.
I have become possessor of the Roost! I have repaired and renovated it with religious care, in the genuine Dutch style, and have adorned and illustrated it with sundry reliques of the glorious days of the New Netherlands. A venerable weather-cock, of portly Dutch dimensions, which once battled with the wind on the top of the Stadt-House of New Amsterdam, in the time of Peter Stuyvesant, now erects its crest on the gable end of my edifice; a gilded horse, in full gallop, once the weather-cock of the great Vander Heyden Palace of Albany, now glitters in the sunshine, and veers with every breeze, on the peaked turret over my portal : my sanctum sanctorum is the chamber once honored by the illustrious Diedrich, and it is from his elbow-chair, and his identical old Dutch writingdesk, that I pen this rambling epistle.
Here then, have I set up my rest, surrounded by the recollections of early days, and the mementos of the historian of the Manhattoes, with that glorious river before me, which flows with such majesty through his works, and which has ever been to me a river of delight.
I thank God I was born on the banks of the Hudson! I think it an invaluable advantage to be born and brought up in the neighborhood of some grand and noble object in nature; a river, a lake, or a mountain. We make a friendship with it, we in a manner ally ourselves to it for life. It remains an object of our pride and affections, a rallying point, to call us home again after all our wanderings. The things which we have learned in our childhood,' says an old writer, grow up with our souls, and unite themselves to it.' So it is with the scenes among which we have passed our early days; they influence the whole course of our thoughts and feelings; and I fancy I can trace much of what is good and pleasant in my own heterogeneous compound, to my early companionship with this glorious river. In the warmth of my youthful enthusiasm, I used to clothe it with moral attributes, and almost to give it a soul. I admired its frank, bold, honest character; its noble sincerity and perfect truth. Here was no specious, smiling surface, covering the dangerous sand-bar or perfidious rock; but a stream deep as it was broad, and bearing with honorable faith the bark that trusted to its waves. I gloried in its simple, quiet, majestic, epic flow; ever straight forward. Once indeed, it turns aside for a moment, forced from its course by opposing mountains, but it struggles bravely through them, and immediately resumes its straightforward march. Behold, thought I, an emblem of a good man's course through life ; ever simple, open, and direct; or if, overpowered by adverse circumstances, he deviate into error, it is but momentary; he soon recovers his onward and honorable career, and continues it to the end of his pilgrimage.
Excuse this rhapsody, into which I have been betrayed by a revival of early feelings. The Hudson is, in a manner, my first and last love; and after all my wanderings, and seeming infidelities, I return to it with a heart-felt preference over all the other rivers in the world. I seem to catch new life, as I bathe in its ample billows, and inhale the
breezes of its hills. It is true, the romance of youth is past, that once spread illusions over every scene. I can no longer picture an Arcadia in every green valley; nor a fairy land among the distant mountains ; nor a peerless beauty in every villa gleaming among the trees; but though the illusions of youth have faded from the landscape, the recollections of departed years and departed pleasures shed over it the mellow charm of evening sunshine.
Permit me then, Mr. Editor, through the medium of your work, to hold occasional discourse from my retreat, with the busy world I have abandoned. I have much to say about what I have seen, heard, felt, and thought, through the course of a varied and rambling life, and some lucubrations, that have long been encumbering my port-folio; together with divers reminiscences of the venerable
historian of the New Netherlands, that may not be unacceptable to those who have taken an interest in his writings, and are desirous of any thing that may cast a light back upon our early history. Let your readers rest assured of one thing, that, though retired from the world, I am not disgusted with it; and that if, in my communings with it, I do not prove very wise, I trust I shall at least prove very good natured. Which is all at present, from
How gladly do we hail the jocund SPRING,
I sometimes think the milder gales of spring,
SKETCHES OF A TRIP TO LAKE SUPERIOR,
BY HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT.
• What is Niagara or Saratoga,' said I, compared to a peep at the most glorious lake in the world, and inhaling the pure air of Lake Superior, at this most delicious season? I have some inquiries to make in that quarter, of an official character, and I will take you along — children, and servants, and all. All the world goes to the Springs, and to the Falls, but it is the privilege of only a few to see the waters of Superior. My life on it, your health will be improved by the air and exercise; and as for views of scenery, there are none equal to it in America.'
The proposal is delightful!' replied a female voice; the very thought is refreshing. I would rather visit that lake, with its Pictured Rocks, than any other part of the continent; but how are we all to get along comfortably, in the boat and on shore ?'
. Leave that to me,' was the response; “I will get a boat of the largest class, and order my tents and other travelling equipage to be aired and got ready. I have already made arrangements to secure a good crew of men. Tell Margaret to prepare the mess-basket, and Julia to pack yours and the children's things, and we will be off, without delay
This brief dialogue was held at Mackinac, in the month of July, 1938, and furnishes the history of the origin of the present tour. Our domicil stood on the shores of the romantic bay, at the south end of that beautiful island ; and we embarked on the crystal bosom of Lake Huron, on a calm day in that month, setting our faces toward the northeast. There is a traverse of ten miles from Mackinac, across the open lake, in which we have the deep blue waters beneath, and the broad blue sky above. This is often a dangerous pass to travellers, but presented no cause of alarm to us. We passed the first night at Point St. Vital, on the Huron coast, and next morning betimes, turned Point Détour, and ascended the straits of St. Mary's to the Falls, or Sault. Here we were received with open hands and smiling faces, and passed a day or two in some farther preparations for the trip. In the mean time, our boat was drawn by oxen from the foot of the rapids into the millrace ; and when we sat out, from the head of this race, above the falls, we left behind us the last flag-staff, and the last village, on the skirts of the civilized world. Other tours have been made from this point, for purposes of scientific discovery, or other grave objects. The present had no such aims. Men, women, and children, had fixed their hearts on seeing sights, and the great object of anxiety was, who should first descry the finest views. We did not expect to see the great mammoth himself
, who leaped over the big lakes, as the Indians told Mr. Jefferson, but we were on the qui vive for something grand.
Our boat was one of the kind locally denominated a Mackinac boat, of light construction, about twenty-eight feet long, and nine broad, provided with sails, and seats, and an awning over the centre-part, and rowed by nine men. We were supplied with tents, travelling beds,
the necessary apparatus for cooking and encamping, fishing tackle, guns for shooting game, and so forth. Our boat displayed a flag, we had a good spy-glass and compass, not forgetting the last reviews, periodicals, (among which fluttered conspicuously the lilac covers of our favorite KNICKERBOCKER,) and papers, to while away the time along plain portions of the coast. At St. Mary, our party had been augmented by young
Mr. Placidus 0 and by Achille C—, acting as interpreter, together with a couple of Chippewa guides, which made our number, in the aggregate, sixteen souls.
Never was there finer weather, smoother water, lovelier skies, or more gorgeous sunsets, than we enjoyed; and if health and recreation were ever sought under favorable auspices, we may claim to have been among her favored votaries. For four weeks of the warmest and most delightful parts of July and August, our attention was constantly enchained by a succession of novel and picturesque scenes. To me, who had previously beheld them, the effect was one of unexhausted interest; but from those of our party who had never before lifted their eyes on this closed sea,' they drew forth constant exclamations of admiration. It is proposed to furnish sketches of this trip, from a few brief notes, and from vivid recollection.
We passed our first night above St. Mary's, on the Canada shore, and next morning rowed across the river, against a head wind, into Peessissowa, or Wagishkee's bay. We were conducted by the chief, Jawba Waddik, son of the noted Wabojeeg, who rendered his name so conspicuous in this quarter, during the latter part of the last century, as the leader of the Odjibwas, against the Sioux and Foxes. Jawba Waddik, more familiarly known under the name of Waishkee, is an Odjibwa, about fifty-eight years of age, a trifle under six feet in height, sinewy and spare, of a grave countenance, and modest deportment. This chief is a native of the western shores of Lake Superior, and after his father's death, came and settled at St. Mary's, where he married the sister of the ruling chief, the late Skingaba Wossin. By this marriage, he has had fourteen children, eight of whom are living. In his fiftieth year, he embraced christianity, and united with the Methodist church, since which, his wife and five children have followed his example in this respect. It might be deemed a naked notice of the fact, could we not add the testimony of those who know him, that he is a man of pious, consistent, and temperate habits, in all things, and lives to adorn the profession he has made. Several of his sons are expert hunters; and although he is now in his decline, he has managed to bring up his large family in comfort, and thus shown to his tribe the perfect practicability of an Indian's being a Christian, and yet pursuing the chase in the appropriate parts of the season. He showed us the fields he had cultivated for several years, on the west side of this bay. The ground appeared to be of a rich quality, and had been formerly covered with rock maple. He had raised, at this location,' potatoes, corn, and various garden vegetables. He also pointed out the site of a former village of the Odjibwas, now wholly abandoned, covered with sand, and overgrown with weeds and coarse grass.
In crossing the bay, the men had an amusing chase after a brood of young ducks, which, at this season, have not received their wingfeathers, and cannot rise from the water. Their wings, however, serve as a kind of paddle, and enable them to move swiftly through, or rather upon, the water. The moment they descried them, the chase began. Nothing more quickly puts the northern boatmen to their mettle. They strained every nerve at the oar, shouting and rowing with all their might. As they gained on the brood, the mother affected lameness of a wing, and flapped awkardly on the water, to decoy us, and give the young a chance to scatter. -All would not do, however. She was obliged to take to flight, and leave the brood to their fate, but in so doing, she was brought down by a shot. Most of the young were also shot, some few were taken alive, and two or three escaped. Those taken alive were afterward, when the excitement was over, set free.
One of the greatest impediments in travelling in this quarter, is headwind. A shipmaster can tack about his vessel, and run askance. A steam-boat can put on more steam, and advance. But a boat or canoe traveller, along the shores of the great lakes, must put ashore, and wait for auspicious breezes. To one who has urgent business to push him forward, this is often a trial of patience, especially, as not unfrequently happens, if the insect race give him no peace nor rest in his encampment. A man can more easily prepare to resist or avoid a monster, than a musquito, for the object is too diminutive for effective action. The usual mode of getting along, in this respect, is to keep them off by gauze nets, both for the hat, or travelling cap, by day, and the bed at night. To adjust the latter, is a 'prime operation,' and requires a good deal of tact. The enemy will penetrate the slightest rent or crevice; and when one lies down, after the most careful adjustment, it is in so direct a horizontal posture, that it is not easy to avoid the idea of being laid out.' • Musquitoes,' you reply, in the latitude of 46°, on the wide breezy lakes ! I should as soon think of protection against a crocodile !' But whatever books or travellers may say, or omit to say, on this point, take my word for it, the object is one of perpetual annoyance, and requires no small share of the every-day foresight and the every-day endurance of a northern journey. On this account, old voyagers generally select sandy points, well denuded of trees, and stretching far into the water, for their encampments. Toward sunset, the wind fell, and we resumed our way.
We were now within a league or so of the grand entrance into the lake, and very soon came in full view of it. This scene has been generally admired. It has all the elements of grandeur. Water, mountains, and sky, exist in such relations and proportions to each other, as to fill the mind with ennobling thoughts, and lift its contemplations from the thing created, to the great Creator! A man may read all the elementary books that treat of the sublime and beautiful in nature, but it is only the actual view of magnitude and expanse in scenery, as they here exist, which can excite the true idea, and the true emotion, of grandeur. The blue water-line of the lake spreads out with all the transparency of a 'molten looking-glass ;' on the north, the bold primitive range of Gros Cape' creates a noble idea of the