« PoprzedniaDalej »
phere, and recounting the little incidents of the day's journey, until admonished by the falling dew that it was time to retire to our tents. For nearly two days, this formation of oceanic sand, elevated into moderate hills and ridges, forms the constant rest for the eye on the American shore. Toward the north, the conic and serrated pinnacles of Marmoage and Gorgontwa display their blue tops across this embayed part of the lake, and these elevated peaks are not lost sight of, in fair weather, until the voyager has passed a day's journey beyond Whitefish Point.
Early in the morning of our first day beyond the capes, we crossed a wide bay, on the southern shore of which rest the bones of Shingaba Wossin, a politic chief, of noble stature and bearing, who died at this spot, in the autumn of 1828. This chief was, for many years, the leader and ruler of the Odjibwa, or as they are commonly called, Chippewa nation, and evinced a foresight and interest in their public affairs, which reflect the highest credit on his memory. From the establishment of a garrison and agency in this quarter, in 1822, he evinced a friendship for the Americans, which was strengthened by his intercourse with the department. He appeared, from the outset, to understand the true policy of his people, and employed the last eight years of his life in efforts to secure their best interests.
Blest be the spot that marks the chieftain's tomb!
Be theirs the warrior's chant, and funeral song;
Its leafy honors o'er their sylvan king;
While far around, the bright and foaming wave
Whitefish Point is a bleak, sandy peninsula, projecting a long distance into the lake; and it is not easy to account for its not being swept away by periodical tempests, without the supposition that this loose body of sand and gravel rests on a rocky basis. Namikong, the name of this point in the Odjibwa, affords an instance of the concise and expressive character of this language, which I will only detain you by remarking, is a compound derivative from the particle na, excelling or abounding, amik, beaver, and ong, a particle of locality; the interior of this part of the country having been formerly noted for the abundance of this animal. It is particularly from the extremity of this prominent point, westward, that the character of the shore strikes the visitor as rather plain and uniform. But this succession of lake sands is terminated by a scene as novel as it is grand. The great sand dunes of Lake Superior, called Grandes Sables,' by the French, are almost unique in American scenery. It was late in the afternoon of our third day from St. Mary's, before we turned the point of coast which first brought this imposing sight in view. A long line of high, naked, arid coast, suddenly burst upon us, as if thrown up by an enchanter's rod. To one who has never observed scenery of this kind, there is really nothing with which to compare it. The vast accumulated strata of sand stands up from the water's edge, like a precipice. There is not a tree or a shrub to detract from its bleak Arabic character, for miles together; and what renders it the more
remarkable, is the exact parallelism of the summit of these sands. There are dense woods to the east and west of them; and the wonder seems, how this part of the coast should have been stripped of its original forest, and its light materials subjected to be whirled, by every storm, in showers of sand, and yet preserve its parallel summit lines. As the sun struck its full rays against these banks, they assumed the whiteness of stone, and stood out like vast structures of marble. The air whistles over these bleak and denuded heights, with a force that makes it difficult to keep one's breath.
We landed on the narrow belt of sand, at the foot of these sandy elevations. The acclivity is less abrupt than it appears, at a distance, and does not probably exceed an angle of sixty degrees with the hori zon. In a few moments, the entire party, children and men, were in motion, on its ascent, and the strife seemed to be, who should scale it first. I admired the stalwart strength of one of our Chippewa guides, who, seeing the renewed efforts of my son, a boy of nine, to disentangle his feet from the yielding and rolling sand, took him by the hands, and mounted the acclivity, as with the strength of a giant. Having ascended, on a prior occasion, and Mrs. S. being an invalid in the boat, I amused myself along the beach below, while the others went up to explore the summits of this northern Sahara. They brought down, on their return, small fragments of granitic stone, of a vitreous lustre, having somewhat the appearance of volcanic action, together with minute but well-characterized specimens of red cornelian. This is, I think, the original locality of the coricus pitcheri, and we procured here also a number of specimens of a plant, from the root of which the Indians extract a most beautiful carmine.
In my inquiries of the Indians respecting their oral superstitions, I found that these dunes were regarded as a vast, magnificent palace, the interior of which is inhabited by a class of powerful spirits, or necromancers, recognised in their mythology. The inmates, according to these tales, had only to thrust their hands through the windows, to obtain their fish from the lake. On these sands the natives also affect to point out the tracks of their Puk Wudj Ininees, or little men, which are a species of Lilliputians, or fairies. There is a bright and beautiful lake, called Leelinau, about half a mile back from the brink of the precipice, which cannot be less than two hundred feet above the level of the lake. Nothing can be more beautifully wild and sylvan than its shores, covered as they are with thrifty oaks, and spotted with shrubbery to its very borders.
As we drew near the precipitous coast called Azhebik, or Pictured Rocks, I directed the man to keep close under the cliffs, being aware that they appear to better advantage from a near view. The day was one of the pleasantest of the season, with the lake calm, and not a cloud to intercept the full rays of the sun; so that the shadow of the rocks upon the water constituted no small part of our enjoyment. For hours, we fixed our gaze on the varying scene. The rock rises abruptly from the water, and ascends to the height of several hundred feet. It is not, however, the grandeur of altitude that constitutes the leading impression. It would not be difficult to refer to more ele
vated masses of rock, rising precipitously above sea or river waters; but the geography of the continent, if not of the world, may be challenged for so magnificent a display of variegated and at the same time elevated coast scenery, exhibiting such varied shapes of architectural-like ruins, and bathing their massive and columnar fronts in so wide spread and pellucid an expanse of waters.
There is much in the minuter features of such a scene, to elicit admiration; but to our party, the principal impression arose from the strong appeal external nature here makes to the senses, in favor of the power and existence of the invisible hand, which called the scene into being. To see these vast inanimate masses of rock, piled up in paralleled grandeur for miles along the coast; subjected, by the action of water, to endless mutations of forms, and yet maintaining their imposing outline undestroyed, cannot but furnish a strong proof of the wisdom of that Power, which has so exactly adapted the influence of resistance, to the force of continued action. Go where you will, amid the rude and disrupted scenes of the continent, and the mind is drawn from geologic effects to their remote as well as perhaps proximate causes; but it requires a visit to Lake Superior, to contemplate the existence of those causes in a form which even the skeptic must acknowledge.
For the distance of about twelve miles, this panoramic display of precipices and caverns, arches, turrets, and pillars, and broad-sweeping façades, characterizes the shore; and it only requires the sun at a certain angle, during a perfect calm, to see the whole lofty superstructure reflected, in a reversed form, in the limpid mirror of the lake's surface. We gazed, as others have heretofore, and will hereafter gaze, upon the Cascade, the The Doric Rock, or Le Chapel,' Le Portail, the Great Cavern, the Turret Rock, and other points, each of which requires a drawing and a description, in detail, to be fully comprehended. Those who have lively imaginations, can see in the mottled and various colors upon the face of these rocks, shapes of all sorts and hues, from Dr. Syntax in search of the picturesque, to the formal and demure cut of the Roundhead, or the headlong zeal of the Crusader. And very many were the likes' and 'resemblances' which the party found. Danger, indeed, came before satiety.
As we began to approach their western termination, the wind gradually freshened, and although blowing off the shore, the reaction of the waves against its prominent abutments, and within the dark-mouthed caverns, produced a sound terrific indeed to female ears. And for several miles, the absorbing object was to make a harbor. We succeeded in getting into the mouth of the little river Pusabikong, although not without shipping several waves, as the boat grounded on the sand-bar, which drives the waters of the stream against the rock, at the very point of their exit into the lake. This is the miner's river of the north-west fur traders.
At this spot, we were detained twenty-four hours, and had the gratification of seeing the lake under the influence of a tempest. During its continuance, we were obliged to shift our tents to a more interior position. The waves were wrought up into winrows of foam, and the spray and water were thrown up an incredible distance. All night the deep resounding roar of the tempest rang in our ears. In the
morning, the children amused us, by relating how their slumbers had been disturbed by the procession of friars and cavaliers, and other fancied objects, which they had seen, the day before, depicted on the surface of the Pictured Rocks. When the waves subsided, we found great numbers of small white fish cast up on the sands, and noticed fresh ranges of pebbles and boulders, which had been driven up from profounder positions.
This river is a mere torrent, coming down over shelves of sandstone rock. There are still traces of a visit of a party of miners, who were here before the revolutionary war, and cut their names on an isolated rock in the channel. We found, on the west bank, a kind of large whortleberry, called wabosimin, or rabbits'-berry, by the Odjibwas. The common variety of this plant was very abundant in the pine woods, south of their encampment. The sportsmen of our party here brought us the partridge, pigeon, and saw-bill duck, called ozzig, by the Indians. I cannot say that these were regarded with as deep an interest for their distinctive mark in ornithology, as in the gastronomic art; and they were transferred to our culinary department with the zest that travel every where gives to appetite. I apprized you, at the outset, that we did not visit the region to enlarge the boundaries of science, and I have now furnished you a practical illustration of the fact.
While encamped here, a well-filled canoe of Odjibwa Indians entered the river, and came and encamped in our vicinity. We were located on an elevation, bearing a few large pines, and carpeted with the chirniphia, uva ursi, and other plants common to arid sands. Our Indian neighbors pitched in a small valley near by, and soon sent up a cheerful camp-fire, which displayed their location, and revealed their numbers. I sent down, through the intervention of Mrs. S., provisions and presents, and soon had the pleasure of knowing that I had made the whole group happy. The mother of the family shortly af ter came up, attended by her healthy-looking, bright-eyed, happy children. She addressed Mrs. S. by the term nin dozheemiss; i. e. ' my cousin,' and presented her a dish of the wild fruit of the season. While these civilities were interchanged, the men smoked their pipes, with dignified composure, at their camp, having previously been up to offer a shake of the hand, and a bozhoo, and been dismissed with a present of tobacco, 'the sacred weed,' which is the Indian panacea, certainly for every thing partaking of the character of care. I could not help remarking the ease and confidence inspired in these people, by thus meeting them in their own country, and with the confidence secured by prior acquaintance.
QUIPS AND QUILLETS' PARAPHRASED.'
AND doctor, do you really think
Young mother! he is gone!
His dimpled cheek no more will touch thy breast; No more the music tone
Float from his lips, to thine all fondly pressed : His smile and happy laugh are lost to thee, Earth must his mother and his pillow be !'
GONE, gone from us! - and shall we see Those sybil-leaves of destiny,
Those calm eyes, nevermore?
The stars of those two gentle eyes
Quench'd are the hopes that had their birth,
Stars of a mother's fate;
And she would read them o'er and o'er,
Which she had conned and conned before;
Her voice would falter in its song,
Even to breaking, with the balmy dew,
The tongue that scarce had learned to claim
How peacefully they rest,
Those tiny hands, that ne'er were still before,
But ever sported with his mother's hair,
That wove those pleasant bands!
Is this his slumber!
Time scarce can number
The years ere he will wake again;
Oh may we see his eye-lids open then! Oh stern word, nevermore!
His slender sail
Ne'er felt the gale;
And putting to the shore,
To dwell with us no more!
Full short his journey was; no dust
He seemed a cherub who had lost his way,
With us was short, and 't was most meet That he should be no delver in earth's clod, Nor need to pause and cleanse his feet, To stand before his God:
Oh stern word, nevermore!