Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

50° below zero. The summer is pleasant, never too warm by day, nor too cold at night; it is stated, however, that there is frost, more or less, in every month of the year, and that snow lies on the ground from the middle of November to the middle of May. ;

The natives of Western Caledonia name themselves -cullies, (i. e. water-travellers,) from the circumstance of their passing in canoes from one village to another. The men are of the middle stature and well made; but the women are generally short and thick, having their lower limbs disproportionately large. In their houses, food, and dress, they are not over cleanly. The skins of the beaver, badger, hare, and the smaller animals, cut into narrow strips and plaited together into a kind of cloak, serve them for clothing. In addition to this, the women wear an apron of deer or salmon's skin, twelve or eighteen inches broad, and reaching nearly to the knee.

In summer, the men frequently go without any covering. Those about the stations were induced to wear a kind of breech-cloth; but so little, says Mr. Harmon, is their sense of delicacy, that ' if one day it be seen in its proper place, the next it will probably be wrapt about their heads, or around their necks. Both sexes perforate the cartilage of the nose, from which the men suspend small pieces of brass or copper; but the young women run a wooden pin through it, on each end of which they fix a shell-bead, of about an inch and a half in length, and about the thickness of the stem of a common tobacco pipe. These beads are brought to them by the A-te-nâs, and constitute a sort of circulating medium, twenty of them being made to represent the value of a beaver's skin. The young women wear their hair long, and paint their faces with a kind of red ochre. If they can procure European beads, they tie them in a bunch to the end of a lock of hair, behind each ear.

As their subsistence is chiefly derived from the water, their nets are excellent; they are made by the women of the inner bark of the willow, spun into a strong cordage, and sometimes of the nettle; the latter are chiefly used for taking the smaller kinds of fish. About the beginning of April, the fishing commences on the smaller lakes, which afford them trout, carp, &c. On these they subsist for two or three months, and when the season is over, return to their villages, and pick up various herbs, roots, and berries, which they eat with their dried fish. This serves them till about the middle of August, when the salmon make their appearance in incredible quantities. They pass the lakes, ascend the streams, which fall into them, and sometimes run to such a height, that the water becoming shallow below prevents their descent, in which case they are left to perish in such numbers, as to infect the atmosphere for a considerable distance around. On their first appearance all the natives leave their huts, men, women, and children, screaming out, the salmon are come—the salmon are come!' and immediately set about taking them for their winter's store. The usual mode of catching them is by throwing a dam across the river, and placing wicker baskets of great size, thie entrance of which is a cone pointing inwards, like that of a mousetrap, to receive the fish. Four or five hundred are frequently caught at a time in one of these baskets. The employment of the women and children is to gut, and hang them by the tails on poles to dry. After a day or two, they are taken down, split open, and again hung in the open air for about a month, when they are found to be sufficiently dried to keep for several years. The pike, which is so common in all the lakes on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, is, not known in the western territory; but to make amends for its absence, they have plenty of the finest sturgeon in the world. Mr. Harmon says that a fish of 250 pounds is not at all uncommon; that he saw one caught in Frazer's Lake of twelve feet two inches in length, and four feet eleven inches in circumference, which must have weighed from 550 to 600 pounds.

The various quadrupeds which abound in this part of America are used as well for food as for clothing ; they are caught in strong nets made of thongs, or shot with arrows, or taken in traps made of Jarge pieces of wood, which are so set as to fall and crush then, while nibbling at the bait. The bear and the beaver are.considered as the most valuable of these animals, and are served up at the feasts which they make in memory of their deceased relatives. Berries of various kinds form an essential part of their food, which they preserve by placing them in layers with heated stones, in vessels made of the bark of the spruce fir, and squeezing thein into cakes and leaving them to dry;—in this state they are eaten with oil extracted from the salmon. When all other kinds of subsistence fail, they have recourse to a species of lichen, which is found in abundance on the sides of the rocks. · Their canoes are formed of the bark of the spruce fir, or birch; in these frail vessels two men with paddles will, with ease, go fifty miles a day. In winter, they travel in snow shoes, made of two bent sticks interlaced with thongs of deer-skin; or on sledges drawn by dogs. A couple of these tractable animals, Mr. Harmon says, will draw a load of two hundred and fifty pounds, besides provisions for themselves and their driver, twenty miles, in five hours. The people on the west side of the Rocky Mountains,' he adds, ‘appear to have the same affection for their dogs, that they have for their children; and they will discourse with them as if they were rational beings; they frequently call them their sons and daughters. When any of them dies, it is not unusual to see their masters place the carcass on a pile of wood, and burn it in the same man

ner

ner as they do the dead bodies of their relations; crying and howling as if they were their kindred.'

On the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, the Indians invariably bury their dead; but on the opposite side they burn them. Mr. Harmon was present at the burning of a chief, whose body was laid out in his best dress, with all his trinkets by his side. His two wives were placed, one at the head, the other at the feet of the corpse, where they remained until the hair of their heads was singed by the flames, and they were almost suffocated by the smoke, when they rolled off in a state approaching to insensibility. On recovering their strength, they began beating the burning body whenever it could be approached for the intensity of the heat; and this disgusting ceremony was continued, until it was nearly consumed. The ashes and bones were then collected and put into bags, which the widow's were to carry about with them, day and night, for the space of two years; at the end of which the relations of the deceased would make a feast, and the bones and ashes be deposited in a box, and placed under a shed in the middle of the village. Till this period, the widows are kept in a state of slavery; their faces are daubed with black, their heads shaved, and they go without any other clothing than a wrapper of skins round their waist. Such of the natives as die in the winter are generally kept in their huts till the warm weather commences; when their bodies are committed to the funeral pile, and their ashes finally deposited in small buildings, about six feet high, covered with bark, and surrounded by boards, painted with rude images of the sun, moon, and various kinds of animals... · They seem to have some vagile notion of a future state; and firmly believe that a departed soul can, if it pleases, come back to earth, in a human shape; and that their priests, or cunning men, when a corpse is about to be burned, can blow the soul of the deceased into one of his relatives, in which case his first child will be born with it. They believe too, that the earth was once entirely covered with water, and every thing destroyed but a musk-rat, who, diving to the bottom, brought up some mud, which increased, and grew to the present shape of the world, that is, Western Caledonia. How it was peopled, they do not trouble themselves to explain; but a fire, they say, spread over the whole and destroyed every human being, with the exception of one man and one woman, who saved themselves by retiring into a deep cave in the mountains, until the flames were extinguished.

The Western Caledonians are a cheerful people, and extremely garrulous ; men, women, and children,' Mr. Harmon says, ' keep their tongues constantly in motion; when not asleep, they are always either talking or singing,' Many of their airs are pleasing,

and

and are said to resemble those which one hears in Catholic churches. They are greatly addicted to gambling: not only the men, but the women also, and even the young children, pass the greater part of the winter season in play, and will stake even the last rag on their backs. The men are much attached to their wiyes, and apt to be jealous of them ; but to their unmarried daughters they allow unbounded freedom, with the view, as one of them said, to keep the young men away from their mothers. Upon the whole, however, they appear to be a quiet, cheerful, and inoffensive people; and, as we are told, they are at all times perfectly willing to work when employed by the white people'; it is to be hoped that these white people will instruct them in the pursuits of agriculture, (for which the country offers sufficient encouragement,) as preparatory to a more perfect state of civilization, and to that more valuable knowledge, for the entertainment of which their mild and inoffensive habits seem so peculiarly to fit them.

[ocr errors]

Art. IX.-). First Report of the Commissioners appointed to

consider the Subject of Weights and Measures; 24 June, 1819. 2. Second Report of the same Commissioners; 13 July, 1820. 3. Third Report of the same Commissioners; 31 March, 1821. ; 4. Report of the Select Committee appointed to consider of the

several Reports which have been laid before the House of Com

mons, relating to Weights and Measures; 28 May, 1821. 5. Manuel Pratique et Elémentaire des Poids et Mesures, des

Monnaies, et du Calcul Décimal. Par S. A. Tarbé, Chef de · Division au Ministère des Manufactures et du Commerce; 1813. 6. The Universal Cambist and Commercial Instructor; being a full

and accurate Treatise on the Exchanges, Monies, Weights, and Measures of all trading Nations, and their Colonies: By P.

Kelly, LL.D. The Second Edition. 4to. 1821. . . N O political theorist, from Plato downwards, has forgotten to

\ enact, in the formation of ideal states, one common Weight and Measure; and no practical statesman seems to have considered it a matter of insuperable difficulty in the execution. In the English history, laws to this effect are found as early as Edgar. That they had been of little avail may be concluded from its having been found necessary to declare in Magna Charta, cap. 25-one measure of wine shall be throughout our realm, and one measure of ale, and one measure of corn, that is to say, the quarter of London. And it shall be of weights as it is of measures.'

During the six hundred years which have elapsed since that period, it is singular that scarcely any ten have passed without some new law having been enacted by parliament, prescribing the

'weights

weights and measures to be used throughout the kingdom; and every act complains that the preceding statutes had been ineffectual, and the laws disobeyed." In Magna Charta, one measure is mentioned, the quarter of London,' and in all subsequent acts the Winchester bushel is alone declared to be the legal one, and yet its dimensions were never specified till 3 Will. III.; and this bushel, which is the one in use at the port of London, at Mark-lane, and at Guildhall, does not agree with the standard bushel at the Exchequer, either in shape or contents. Not only does the greatest diversity prevail in the country in the corn measure, but also in the manner of filling and striking it.

The origin of the standards authorized in this country was probably capricious or accidental. Henry I. ordered the length of his arm to be the criterion of the yard measure; and 51 Henry III. declares 32 grains of wheat, dry, taken out of the midst of the ear, to be the standard weight of the twentieth part of an ounce. The foot, the hand, the span, the finger, the pace, are still employed where perfect accuracy is not required. But scientific men have sought to fix on standards derived from nature, not liable to be lost or to vary. In this country, the pendulum that vibrates seconds of mean solar time has been accurately compared with the established standard of long measure. In France, an arc of the meridian has been adopted as the basis of a new standard. From measures of length, those of capacity are deduced by determining the cubical inches which they should contain. And, again, from the measure of capacity is derived the standard of weight, from its contents in some substance, of which the specific gravity is invariable, as pure water. Thus a cubic foot of pure water is found, at a given temperature, to weigh 1000 ounces avoirdupois; and the pendulum vibrating sixty times in a minute, in the latitude of London, is ascertained to measure 39.139 inches, of which the yard contains 36. The ten-millionth part of the quadrant of the meridian is the linear unit adopted in France, or the standard metre, and this measure is found to equal 39:371 English inches. · It has been remarked upon these bases of the linear measure,—the foundation of the others,-that, as the earth is not a perfect sphere, having the equatorial diameter longer than the polar axis, an arc of the meridian will vary, the degree increasing from the equator to the pole. In consequence of the spheroidical figure of the earth, a pendulum will vibrate quickest at the poles, and slowest on the equator, because the gravity is the greatest at the poles, from the circumstance of their being nearest to the centre of the earth. Hence the length of the seconds pendulum must be increased from the equator to the pole. Tables have been formed to ascertain these variatious, and from them it has been computed that 100 lb.

on

« PoprzedniaDalej »