Louis by the Flathead chiefs seeking religious instruction for their people. Vigorously exploited in the denominational papers of the East, this delegation aroused a sentiment that led to the founding of Protestant missions in Oregon and western Idaho, and incidentally to the solution of the Oregon question. But in point of fact, the Flathead deputation was sent to secure a Catholic missionary; and not merely one but four such embassies embarked for St. Louis before the great desideratum, a "black robe" priest, could be secured for ministration to this far-distant tribe.
Employed in the Columbian fur-trade were a number of Christian Iroquois from Canada, who had been carefully trained at St. Regis and Caughnawaga in all the observances of the Roman Catholic church. Upon the Pacific waterways and in the fastnesses of the Rockies, these Iroquois taught their fellow Indians the ordinances of the church and the commands of the white man's Great Spirit. John Wyeth see our volume xxi testifies to the honesty and humanity of the Flathead tribe: "they do not lie, steal, nor rob any one, unless when driven too near to starvation.
Born in Belgium in , young De Smet was educated in a religious school at Malines. When twenty years of age he responded to an appeal to cross the Atlantic and carry the gospel to the red men of the Western continent. Arrived in Philadelphia , the young Belgian was astonished to see a well-built town, travelled roads, cultivated farms, and other appurtenances of civilization; he had expected only a wilderness and savages. Two years were spent in the Jesuit novitiate in Maryland, before the zealous youth saw any traces of frontier life.
Then the youthful novice was removed to Florissant, Missouri, not far from St. Louis, where the making of a log-cabin and the breaking of fresh soil furnished a mild foretaste of his future career. Still more years elapsed before the cherished project of missionary labor could be realized.
In St. Louis University was founded, and herein the young priest, who had been ordained in , was employed upon the instructional force. Later years were spent in Europe, while recruiting his health and securing supplies for the infant university. It was not until that the first missionary enterprise was undertaken by Father de Smet, when a chapel for the Potawatomi was built on the site of the modern Council Bluffs. There, in , the fourth Flathead deputation rested after the long journey from their Rocky Mountain home; and at the earnest solicitation of the young missioner, he was in the spring of , detailed by his superior to ascertain and report upon the prospects of a mission to the mountain Indians.
Of the two tribesmen who had come down to St. Louis, Pierre the Left-handed Gaucher was sent back to his people with news of the success of the embassy, while his colleague Ignace was detained to serve as guide to the adventurous Jesuit who in April, , set forth for the Flathead country with the annual fur-trade caravan. The remainder of the winter was occupied in preparations for a new journey, and in securing men and supplies for the equipment of the far-away mission begun under such favorable auspices.
Once more the father departed from Westport — this time in May, The little company consisted, besides himself, of two other priests and three lay brothers, all of the latter being skilled mechanics. Among the members of the caravan were a number of California pioneers, one of whom has thus related his impressions of the young missionary: "He was genial, of fine presence, and one of the saintliest men I have ever known, and I cannot wonder that the Indians were made to believe him divinely protected. He was a man of great kindness and. Father de Smet's letters describe in detail the scenery and incidents of the route from the eastern border of Kansas to Fort Hall, in Idaho, where the British factor received the travellers with abounding hospitality.
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Here some of the Flatheads were in waiting to convey the missionaries to the tribe, the chiefs of which met them in Beaver Head Valley, Montana, and testified their welcome with dignified simplicity. Passing over to the waters of the Columbia, they founded the mission of St. Thence Father de Smet made a rapid journey in search of provisions to Fort Colville, on the upper Columbia, but was again at his mission stockade before the close of the year.
McLoughlin, the British factor, received the good priest with that cordial greeting for which he was already famous. During this journey the father narrowly escaped drowning in the turbulent rapids of the Columbia, where five of his boatmen perished. Returned to St. Mary's, the prospects for a harvest of souls both among the Flatheads and the neighboring tribes appeared so promising that the missionary determined to seek re-enforcement and further aid in Europe. Thereupon he left his companions in charge of the "new Paraguay" of his hopes, and once more undertook the long and adventurous journey to the settlements, this time by way of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, arriving at St.
Recollections of Tartar Steppes and Their Inhabitants (Cass Library of Railway Classics,)
Louis the last of October, At this point the journeys detailed in the volume here reprinted come to an end. The later career of Father de Smet and his subsequent. Father de Smet's writings on missionary subjects ended only with his death, and were increasingly voluminous and detailed. The Letters and Sketches were his first published work, with the exception of a portion of a compilation that appeared in , on the Jesuit missions of Missouri.
We find therefore, in the present reprint, the vitality and enthusiasm of the young traveller relating new scenes, and the abounding joy of the successful missionary uplifting a barbaric race. The book was written with the avowed purpose of creating interest in his newly-organized work, and securing contributions therefor. The freshness of description, the wholesome simplicity of the narrative, the frank presentation of wilderness life, charm the reader, and make this book a classic of early Western exploration.
Cast in the form of letters, wherein there is more or less repetition of statement, it is nevertheless evident that these have been subjected to a certain editorial revision, and that literary quality has been considered.
Aside from the interest evoked by the personality of the writer, and the events of his narrative, the work throws much light upon wilderness travel, the topography and scenery of the Rocky Mountain region, and above all upon the habits and customs, modes of thought, social standards, and religious conceptions of the important tribes of the interior.
After the present series of reprints had been planned for, and announced in a detailed prospectus, there was issued from the press of Francis P. Harper of New York the important volumes edited by Major H. This publication contains much new material, derived from manuscript. IN laying before the majesty of the public a couple of volumes like the present, it has become customary for the Author to disclaim in his preface all original design of perpetrating a book , as if there were even more than the admitted quantum of sinfulness in the act.
Whether or not such disavowals now-a-day receive all the credence they merit, is not for the writer to say; and whether, were the prefatory asseveration, as in the present case, diametrically opposed to what it often is, the reception would be different, is even more difficult to predict. The articles imbodied in the following volumes were, a portion of them, in their original, hasty production, designed for the press; yet the author unites in the disavowal of his predecessors of all intention at that time of perpetrating a book. In the early summer of '36, when about starting upon a ramble over the prairies of the "Far West," in hope of renovating the energies of a shattered constitution, a request was made of the writer, by the distinguished editor of the Louisville Journal, to contribute [vi] to the columns of that periodical whatever, in the course of his pilgrimage, might be deemed of sufficient interest.
A series of articles soon after. And now, with no slight misgiving, does the author commit his firstborn bantling to the tender mercies of an impartial public. Criticism he does not deprecate, still less does he brave it; and farther than either is he from soliciting undue favour. Yet to the reader , as he grasps him by the hand in parting, would he commit his book, with the quaint injunction of a distinguished but eccentric old English writer upon an occasion somewhat similar:.
Let them not fear to defend every article; for I will bear them harmless. I have arguments good store, and can easily confute, either logically, theologically, or metaphysically, all those who oppose me.
IT was a bright morning in the early days of "leafy June. A drizzly, miserable rain had for some days been hovering, with proverbial pertinacity, over the devoted "City of the Falls," and still, at intervals, came lazily pattering down from the sunlighted clouds, reminding one of a hoiden girl smiling through a shower of April tear-drops, while the quay continued to exhibit all that wild uproar and tumult, "confusion worse confounded," which characterizes the steamboat commerce of the Western Valley.
The landing at the time was thronged with steamers, and yet the incessant "boom, boom, boom," of the high-pressure engines, the shrill hiss of scalding steam, and the fitful port-song of the negro firemen rising ever and anon upon the breeze, gave notice of a constant  augmentation to the number. Some, too, were getting under way, and their lower guards were thronged by emigrants with their household and agricultural utensils.
Drays were rattling hither and thither over the rough pavement; Irish porters were cracking their whips and roaring forth alternate staves of blasphemy and song; clerks hurrying to and fro, with fluttering note-books, in all the fancied dignity of "brief authority;".
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To one who has never visited the public wharves of the great cities of the West, it is no trivial task to convey an adequate idea of the spectacle they present. The commerce of the Eastern seaports and that of the Western Valley are utterly dissimilar; not more in the staples of intercourse than in the mode in which it is conducted; and, were one desirous of exhibiting to a friend from the Atlantic shore a picture of the prominent features which characterize commercial proceedings upon the Western waters, or, indeed, of Western character in its general outline, at a coup d'asil , he could do no better than to place him in the wild uproar of the steamboat quay.
Amid the "crowd, the hum,  the shock" of such a scene stands out Western peculiarity in all its stem proportion. Steamers on the great waters of the West are well known to indulge no violently conscientious scruples upon the subject of punctuality, and a solitary exception at our behest, or in our humble behalf, was, to be sure, not an event to be counted on. It is true, and to the unending honour of all concerned be it recorded, very true it is our doughty steamer ever and anon would puff and blow like a porpoise or a narwhal; and then would she swelter from every pore and quiver in every limb with the ponderous labouring of her huge enginery, and the steam would shrilly whistle and shriek like a spirit in its.
Among the causes of our wearisome detention was one of a nature too melancholy, too painfully interesting lightly to be alluded to. Endeavouring to while away the tedium of delay, I was pacing leisurely back and forth upon the guard , surveying the lovely scenery of the opposite shore, and the neat little houses of the village sprinkled upon the plain beyond, when a wild, piercing shriek struck upon my ear. I was hurrying immediately forward to the spot whence it seemed to proceed,  when I was intercepted by some of our boat's crew bearing a mangled body.
It was that of our second engineer, a fine, laughing young fellow, who had been terribly injured by becoming entangled with the flywheel of the machinery while in motion. He was laid upon the passage floor. I stood at his head; and never, I think, shall I forget those convulsed and agonized features. His countenance was ghastly and livid; beaded globules of cold sweat started out incessantly upon his pale brow; and, in the paroxysms of pain, his dark eye would flash, his nostril dilate, and his lips quiver so as to expose the teeth gnashing in a fearful manner; while a muttered execration, dying away from exhaustion, caused us all to shudder.
And then that wild despairing roll of the eyeball in its socket as the miserable man would glance hurriedly around upon the countenances of the bystanders, imploring them, in utter helplessness, to lend him relief. From the quantity of blood thrown off, the oppressive fulness of the chest, and the difficult respiration, some serious pulmonary injury had evidently been sustained; while a splintered clavicle and.
He was all her hope, and to his exertions she was indebted for a humble support. Here, then, were circumstances to touch the sympathies of any heart possessed of but a tithe of the nobleness of our nature; and I could not but reflect, as they were recounted, how like the breath of desolation the first intelligence of her son's fearful end must sweep over the spirit of this lonely widow; for, like the wretched Constance, she can "never, never behold him more.
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While indulging in these sad reflections a gay burst of music arrested my attention; and, looking up, I perceived the packet-boat "Lady Marshall" dropping from her mooring at the quay, her decks swarming with passengers, and under high press of steam, holding her bold course against the current, while the merry dashing of the wheels, mingling with the wild clang of martial music, imparted an air almost of romance to the scene. How strangely did this contrast with that misery from which my eye had just turned! There are few objects more truly grand — I had  almost said sublime — than a powerful steamer struggling triumphantly with the rapids of the Western waters.
The scene has in it a something of that power which we feel upon us in viewing a ship under full sail; and, in some respects, there is more of the sublime in the humbler triumph of man over the elements than in that more vast. Sublimity is a result, not merely of massive, extended, unmeasured greatness, but oftener, and far more impressively, does the sentiment arise from a combination of vast and powerful objects. The mighty stream rolling its volumed floods through half a continent, and hurrying onward to mingle its full tide with the "Father of Waters," is truly sublime; its resistless power is sublime; the memory of its by-gone scenes, and the venerable moss-grown forests on its banks, are sublime; and, lastly, the noble fabric of man's workmanship struggling and groaning in convulsed, triumphant effort to overcome the resistance offered, completes a picture which demands not the heaving ocean-waste and the "oak leviathan" to embellish.
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It was not until the afternoon was far advanced that we found ourselves fairly embarked. A rapid freshet had within a few hours swollen the tranquil Ohio far beyond its ordinary volume and velocity, and its turbid waters were rolling onward between the green banks, bearing on their bosom all the varied spoils of their mountain-home, and of the rich region through which they had been flowing. The finest site from which to view the city we found to be the channel of the Falls upon the Indiana side of the stream, called the Indian  chute, to distinguish it from two others, called the Middle , chute and the Kentucky chute.
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