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colonel Long in the year 1823, and performed a part of the tour in the company of that officer. After giving the title-page of his work at length, we shall not add a single word on the subject of the book itself. What it must be, may be judged of sufficiently from that specimen.
To those, who have confined their attention to the practical exhibitions of that moral and physical power, which is hurrying us onward in the great career of nations, without paying much regard to the remote impelling causes of so rapid an advance; who have seen our population spread, within a comparatively short period, over sections of country more than a thousand miles westward from the original seats of its plantation upon the borders of the Atlantic, it may appear somewhat surprising, that there are yet extensive districts of the interior, which offer an attractive field for discovery to the geographical, as well as the scientific traveller. But it will readily be perceived that such an impression must be ill founded.
The two centuries which have elapsed since this continent was first submitted to the labors and scrutiny of an European population, have swept before them forests of almost interminable extent, where the deer, and the wolf, and the beaver had held divided empire with the red hunter for centuries. The same lapse of time had carried the pious and industrious descendants of the Pilgrims from the Rock of Plymouth westward, to the banks of the Mississippi and Missouri, and northward, to the Great Lakes. But it had left us uninformed of the geographical features of vast portions of country surrounding the heads of these great waters, and almost totally so, of those minuter facts from which an accurate knowledge of the climate and soil, the relative astronomical position, and the natural history of those regions, could be drawn.
Our forefathers found their faculties and resources sufficiently taxed, in clearing and improving the soil; in establishing those social institutions which formed the germ of our present political system; and in maintaining those relations with their Indian and Canadian neighbors, which pressed so long and so heavily upon them. The means and capacities of those early times were too nearly balanced with their wants, to leave much superfluous wealth or enterprise to be employed in public examinations, not immediately necessary to the practical concerns of life. Few travellers would be found to explore distant regions, when life was the forfeit of every intrusion into the
Indian territories, and when whole settlements were frequently crowded into temporary wooden forts, to protect themselves from the tomahawk and the scalping-knife.
It is doubtless attributable to these circumstances, superadded to the low state of printing, that so few travellers appear in the records of our colonial literature. The country had not outgrown this state of things, when the controversies which led to the American Revolution began, and it was not until after the successful termination of that struggle, and of the Indian wars which succeeded it, that our population began to extend itself fearlessly beyond the Alleganies, and towards the Lakes. But even then, the impulse of emigration was not directed through the agency of the press. The hardy explorer contented himself with verbal narrations, which were repeated from neighborhood to neighborhood. Personal observation supplied the place of books. Settlement kept an exact pace with discovery; and few purchased land, and still fewer removed, without previously examining and judging for themselves. There was a spirit of manly enterprise and personal devotedness in the transactions of that era, which indicated the speedy triumph of the plough and the sickle, over the western wilderness. The first descriptions of those inviting regions were gleaned from the accounts of hunters. Pamphlets and newspapers came in as auxiliaries. That intrepid race of pioneers were free from the mania which has been somewhat too prevalent in our day. They kept no journals, and wrote no books. The great business of this period was to act, and they have furnished an example of practical principles, pursued to practical results, of which the annals of the settlement and progress of nations do not at all furnish a parallel.
Still, in surveying the long interval between the first systematic efforts of the western Indians to check the advance of emigration on the frontiers of Virginia and Pennsylvania, and the war brought to a close by the successful operations of general Wayne in 1794, it is worthy of remark, that so few writers appear to diversify that active period of political and economical and religious discussion, under the popular name of travellers. Travellers there were indeed, in the infant days of our settlement, but their remarks were almost wholly confined to the portions of territory situated along the Atlantic border. Their works were published and intended for the information of readers in Europe, and appear to have had but little circulation here, and are now rarely to be met with. The
work of Smith alone, is sufficient to make us regret that our ancestors did not more frequently record the interesting events of those times.
Of those few who pushed their adventures or researches into the terra incognita, bounded, previously to the peace of Paris, by the Alleganies, we do not know of any name which has any pretensions to be placed on a level with that of Jefferson. His Notes on Virginia,' though not published as travels, are yet the result of the inquisitive spirit of travels, and afford a model for philosophical inquiry into the great moral and physical truths, affecting the progress of civilization and science, which we should be glad to see oftener imitated. The travels of Bartram may be referred to, as a monument to mark the recession of an age which did not appreciate his favorite topic. Pownall and Wynne do not properly fall within the scope of these remarks.
After the mention of the foregoing names, we do not now recollect any, who have more pretensions to notice than Carver, Long (an interpreter in Burgoyne's army), Adair, and Henry; and their works, destitute of all severity of research, and loose and unsatisfactory in matter and manner, are principally engrossed with the discussion of Indian affairs.
Up to the close of the American Revolution, our best and most copious information respecting the geography, history, Indian population, and the general characteristic features and productions of the entire portion of America northwest of the Allegany chain, was derived from the French missionary fathers; who, at an early day, traversed those immense regions under the strong, but delusive hope of converting to Christianity populous bands of hunters and warriors, roaming without restraint through a wilderness which spontaneously supplied them with all the necessaries and requisites of life. But D'Ablon and Sagard, Charlevoix and Lescarbot, like the bulk of those who preceded or followed them, must be read with discriminating attention. The burden of these works, is the conversion of the Indians. This was the first and the last object of the government which sanctioned their labors; of the religious orders who employed them; and of the missionaries themselves. To acknowledge a failure in their mission, was to prepare the way for their own disgrace; and here, we nay conclude, is one cause of the exaggerated accounts, which were published of their success, in bringing within the pale of the
Catholic church whole villages, and even tribes. Charlevoix was the most respectable writer of this class, but even Charlevoix has his defects.
It is not our object to go into any critical examination of works, which are well known to our readers, and upon which the voice of contemporary writers has long since been pronounced. Nor shall we stop to inquire into the comparative merits of Chastellux, and Volney, and Chateaubriand, travellers of the same country with the missionary fathers, but of a different age and different stamp. For a similar reason, we shall pass over the volumes of Mackenzie, an author and discoverer, of whose personal observations time attests the truth; but whose route of discovery lay exclusively through the territories of the Canadas, Hudson's Bay, and the ill-starred colony of Ossinaboina.
It will be sufficient for our purpose if we show, that previously to our separation from the mother country, and even up to our own times, we have been indebted, almost exclusively, to foreign sources for our information of the transmontane regions; and that neither as colonies, nor as a separate nation, had we discharged our duty to ourselves, by furthering the great work of useful discovery.
The public mind either seemed satisfied with the reports of missionaries and traders, or was not roused to a proper sense of the importance of the subject, until the elevation of Mr Jefferson to the presidential chair in 1800. That acute observer of nature set on foot separate expeditions for exploring the sources of the Missouri and the Columbia, the Mississippi and the Arkansas. The result of these examinations was given to the public in the Expedition' of Lewis and Clarke, and in the exploratory travels of Pike. At the same time a partial impulse was given to private adventure, and we are indebted to this period for the Views of Louisiana' by Brackenridge, and the Historical Sketches' of Stoddard.
No further interest appears to have been excited in favor of the progress of exploration, until the termination of the war of 1812. Various causes tended to accelerate emigration towards the West. The demand for information from that quarter was urgent throughout the whole line of Atlantic states, and every thing in the shape of personal observations, was eagerly purchased and eagerly read. The supply was soon adequate to the demand. But the market for books, like the market for
corn, may be overstocked. A sickly growth of productions sprung up, out of which we scarce recollect one, with the exception of Drake's 'Picture of Cincinnati,' and perhaps 'Darby's Louisiana,' which deserves to be recalled from the oblivion into which they have sunk.
Such was the state of information up to about 1818. During this, and the following year, the strong desire of making discoveries in our western country, more particularly in reference to its botany and mineralogy, and their kindred topics, allured several individuals to travel in those regions upon private account. The result of this impulse is, perhaps, sufficiently comprehended in Nuttall's Travels in Arkansas,' Beck's Gazetteer of Illinois and Missouri,' and the 'View of Western Mines and Minerals.' But a more considerable effort under higher auspices was made. Mr Calhoun, acting on the policy which had been introduced and sanctioned by Mr Jefferson, ordered a detachment of troops to ascend the Missouri and take post on the Yellow Stone river; with a view, in part, to cover the observations of the topographical engineers and naturalists, who were despatched to examine and report upon the natural features and productions of that imperfectly known region. This design, although partially frustrated by the refusal of Congress to appropriate the necessary funds, and by the haste with which interesting regions were traversed, resulted in the Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, under the command of Major Stephen H. Long,' reviewed in a former number of this Journal. Little has occurred to change the views therein expressed. We deem the work a valuable accession to our stock of travels, which may be safely referred to, as to its principal topics, by all who take an interest in the subjects brought into discussion. Ampler means for making observations, and more time and scrutiny devoted to collateral inquiries, in order to determine points which are left in doubt, would have removed several objections which have been made to this work. But we are not disposed to find fault with observers, who have evinced so much zeal in their researches, and added so considerably to the dominions of natural science, merely because, under more favorable auspices, they might have accomplished more. The public are indebted to Dr James, for the judicious manner in which he has accomplished the task of a compiler, from the manuscript notes of the party, and still more so for his geological and botanical observations