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Into the Wilderness

Mr. Swift hired for me a Dutchman who spoke several Indian dialects. I bought two horses and hurried away from Albany.

All the country that extends today between the territory of this city and Niagara is inhabited, cultivated, and traversed by the famous New York canal; but at that time a great part of the land was wilderness.

When after crossing the Mohawk I found myself in forests which had never been cut, I fell into a sort of inebriation which again I have recalled in the Historical Essay: "I went from tree to tree, to right and left at random, saying to myself: Here no more roads to follow, no more cities, no more narrow houses, no more presidents of republics, no more kings. . . . And to see if I was really reinvested with my original rights, I indulged in a thousand acts of will which enraged the big Dutchman who was acting as my guide, and who in his soul believed me mad."

We were entering the former cantons of the six Iroquois nations. The first savage we met was a young man who was walking in front of a horse on which was seated an Indian woman decked out in the manner of her tribe. My guide wished them good day as we passed.

It is already known that I was fortunate enough to be received by one of my compatriots on the frontier of solitude, M. Violet, dancing master among the savages. His lessons were paid for in beaver skins and bear hams. "In the midst of a forest, there could be seen a kind of barn; I found in this barn a score of savages, men and women, daubed like sorcerers, their bodies half naked, their ears slit, ravens' feathers on their heads and rings in their noses. A little Frenchman, powdered and curled as in the old days, with an apple-green coat, brocaded jacket, muslin frill and cuffs, was scraping on a miniature violin, having these Iroquois dance Madelon Friquet. M. Violet, speaking to me of the Indians, always said, 'These gentlemen Savages and these lady Savagesses.' He congratulated himself on the lightness of foot of his students: indeed, I never saw such capers. M. Violet, holding his little violin between his chin and his chest, would tune up the fatal instrument; he would cry in Iroquois, 'Places!' and the whole troop would jump like a band of demons.

It was a rather strange thing for a disciple of Rousseau to be ,introduced to primitive life with a ball given for Iroquois by a former kitchen boy of General Rochambeau. We continued our way. Now I shall let the manuscript speak; I present it as I find it, at times in the form of a narrative or a journal, sometimes in Letters or simple annotations.


We had arrived at the edge of the lake to which the Onondagas, an Iroquois people, gave their name. Our horses needed rest. I chose with my Dutchman a suitable place to pitch our camp. We found one in a valley, at the place where a river bubbles Out of the lake. This river has not gone 600 feet directly north when it bends to the east and runs parallel to the lake shore outside the rocks that form a rim about the lake.

It was in the curve of the river that we set up our equipment the night: we drove two tall stakes in the ground and laid a pole crosswise between the forks of these stakes. By placlong strips of birchbark from the ground to the crossbeam, had a roof worthy of our palace. The traveler's campfire was to cook our supper and to drive away the mosquitoes. Our saddles served as our pillows under the ajoupa, and our coats blankets.

We attached bells to the necks of our horses and released them in the woods. By an admirable instinct, these animals never wander so far away as to lose sight of the fire that their masters light at night to keep away the insects and to protect selves from the snakes. From the inside of our hut we d a picturesque view: before us stretched the lake, fairly narrow and bordered by forests and rocks; around us, the river, surrounding our peninsula with its green and limpid waves, lapped at its banks impetuously

It was scarcely four o'clock in the afternoon when our establishment was complete. I took my gun and went wandering in the surrounding area. First I followed the river; my botanical research was not successful, for the plants were ordinary. I noted numerous families of Plantago virginica and other beauties of the field quite as common; I left the banks of the river for the shores of the lake, and I had no better luck. With the exception of a variety of rhododendron, I found nothing worth stopping for. The flowers of this shrub, a bright pink color, created a charming effect on the blue water of the lake in which they were reflected and the brown side of the rock in which they plunged their roots.

There were few birds: I saw only a solitary pair which flitted in front of me and seemed to take pleasure in spreading movement and love through the immobility and coldness of these places. The color of the male allowed me to recognize the white bird, or the Passer nivalis of the ornithologists. Also I heard the voice of that species of osprey which has been very well characterized by the definition, strix exclamator. This bird is uneasy, as are all tyrants: I wore myself out in vain pursuing him.

The flight of the osprey had led me through the woods to a valley hemmed in by bare and rocky hills. In this very remote spot there was to be seen a miserable cabin belonging to a savage, built half-way up the hill among the rocks; a lean cow was grazing in a meadow below.

I have always liked these little shelters: a wounded animal crouches in a corner; an unfortunate man is afraid to show himself for fear of being repulsed. Tired by my chase, I sat down on top of the hill I was crossing, with the Indian but facing me on the opposite hill. I put down my gun beside me and gave myself over to those reveries whose charm I have often enjoyed.

Scarcely had I spent a few minutes in this way when I heard voices at the bottom of the valley. I noticed three men who were leading five or six fat cows. After having put them to graze in the fields, they walked toward the lean cow, which they drove away with sticks. The appearance of these Europeans in so solitary a place was extremely disagreeable to me; their violence made them even more annoying. Bursting with laughter, they were chasing the poor animal through the rocks, making it run the risk of breaking its legs. An Indian woman, in appearance as miserable as her cow, came out of the isolated hut, advanced toward the frightened animal, called it softly, and offered it something to eat. The cow ran to her, stretching its neck with a little moo of joy. The settlers threatened the woman from a distance as she returned to the cabin. The cow followed her, stopping at the door to be petted, and gratefully licking the helping hand of her friend. The cow ed her, stopping at the door to be petted, and gratefully g the helping hand of her friend. The settlers had withdrawn.

I got up, went down the hill, crossed the valley, and, climb.the hill opposite, arrived at the hut, resolved to repair as as possible the brutality of the white men. The cow saw me and started to run away; I advanced with caution and managed to reach the mistress's house without driving the cow away.

The Indian woman had gone back in. I spoke the greeting which had been taught me: "Siegoh!" (I have come!) The woman, instead of returning my greeting with the cusresponse "You have come!" answered nothing. I judged that the visit of one of her tyrants was annoying to her. Then I started in turn to pet the cow. The Indian woman seemed astonished: I saw in her yellow and saddened face signs of tenderness and almost gratitude. These mysterious relations of misfortune filled my eyes with tears. There is a sweetness in over ills which no one else has cried over.

Still for some time my hostess looked at me with lingering doubt as if she were afraid I was seeking to deceive her; then she took a few steps and came herself to place her hand on the forehead of her companion in misery and solitude.

Encouraged by this mark of confidence, I said in English, had exhausted my Indian: "She is very thin!" The Indian woman replied immediately in bad English: "She eats very little." "She was roughly treated," I continued. And the woman answered me: "We are both used to that." I continued: "Then this field isn't yours?" She answered: "This field belonged to my husband, who died. I have no children, and the whites lead their cows into my field."

I had nothing to offer this indigent creature. My idea would have been to demand justice for her; but to whom would I address myself in a country where the mixture of Europeans and Indians confused authority, where the right of force took independence from the savage, and where civilized man, becoming half-savage, had shaken off the yoke of civil authority?

We separated, the Indian woman and I, after having shaken hands. My hostess said to me many things which I did not understand and which were no doubt wishes of prosperity for the foreigner. If they were not heard by heaven, it was not the fault of the person who offered them but the fault of him for whom the prayer was offered: all souls do not have an equal aptitude for happiness, as all ground does not produce equal harvests.

I returned to my ajoupa, where I had a rather sad supper. The evening was magnificent; the lake, in deep repose, did not have a single ripple on its surface; the murmuring river bathed our peninsula, which was decorated by false ebony trees still covered with leaves; the bird called the Carolina cuckoo repeated its monotonous call; we would hear it close at times, at others farther away, as the bird changed the place from which it uttered its love calls.

The next day I went with my guide to visit the head Sachem of the Onondagas, whose village was not far away. We arrived at this village at ten o'clock in the morning. I was immediately surrounded by a crowd of young savages who spoke to me in their language, mixing in English sentences and a few French words. They made much noise and seemed very happy. These Indian tribes, enclaved in the whites' clearings, have taken on Something of our manners: they have horses and flocks, and their cabins are filled with furniture and utensils bought at Quebec, Montreal, Niagara, Detroit, or the cities of the United States.

The Sachem of the Onondagas was an old Iroquois in all the strictness of the word. His person preserved the memory of the old ways and the old times of the wilderness: big slit ears, a pearl hanging from his nose, his face striped in various colors, a little tuft of hair on the top of his head, a blue tunic, a skin mantle, a leather belt with a scalping knife and a tomahawk, his arms tattooed, moccasins on his feet, a porcelain necklace in his hand.

He received me well and had me sit on his mat. The young men seized my gun; they dismantled the firing mechanism with surprising dexterity and replaced the pieces with the same skill. It was a simple double-barreled shotgun.

The Sachem spoke English and understood French; my interpreter knew Iroquois, so that conversation was easy. Among other things, the old man told me that although his nation had always been at war with mine they had always esteemed it. He assured me that the savages never stopped missing the French; he complained of the Americans, who would soon leave to the people whose ancestors had welcomed them, not even enough earth to cover their bones.

I spoke to the Sachem of the Indian widow's distress; he told me that indeed the woman was persecuted, that he had several times approached the American commissioners on her behalf, but that he had not been able to obtain justice from them; he added that once the Iroquois would have made their own justice.

The Indian women served us a dinner. Hospitality is the last primitive virtue remaining to the Indian in the midst of the vices of European civilization. The former extent of this hospitality is well known: once received in a cabin, one became inviolable: the hearth had the power of the altar; it made you sacred. The master of this hearth would have allowed himself to be killed before one hair of your head could be touched.

When a tribe, driven from its forests, or a man came to request hospitality, the stranger began what was called the dance of the suppliant. The dance was executed in this manner: the suppliant would advance a few steps, then stop, looking at the one who was the object of the supplication, and then return to his first position. Next the hosts would intone the chant of the stranger: "Here is the stranger, here is the envoy of the Great Spirit." After the chant, a child would go take the hand of the stranger to lead him to the cabin. When the child would touch the threshold of the door, he would say: "Here is the stranger!" and the chief of the cabin would answer: "Child, bring the man into my cabin." The stranger, entering then under the protection of the child, would go, as with the Greeks, to sit in the ashes of the hearth. He would be given the peace pipe; he would smoke three times, and the women would sing the chant of consolation: "The stranger has found again a mother and a wife. The sun will rise and set for him as before."

A consecrated cup would be filled with maple water; it was a gourd or a stone vase which ordinarily stood in the corner of the fireplace and on which was placed a wreath of flowers. The stranger would drink half the water and pass the cup to his host, who would empty it.

The day after my visit to the chief of the Onondagas, I continued my trip. This old chief had been at the capture of Quebec. He had been present at the death of General Wolfe. And I, leaving an Indian's hut, had newly escaped from the palace of Versailles, and I had just been sitting at the table of Washington.

As we advanced toward Niagara, the road, becoming more difficult, was barely outlined by felled trees: the trunks of these trees served as bridges over the streams or as footing in the marshes. The American population was moving then toward the Genesee concessions. The government of the United States sold these concessions more or less dearly according to the quality of the soil, trees, and water.

The clearing offered a curious mixture of the state of nature and the civilized state. In the corner of a forest which had heard only the cries of the savage and the noises of the wild animal, one would come upon a plowed field; one would see from the same spot the cabin of an Indian and the dwelling of a planter. Some of these dwellings, already finished, recalled the cleanliness of the English and Dutch farms; others were only half finished and had only the arch of the trees for a roof.

I was received in these ephemeral dwellings; often I found in them a delightful family, with all the charm and all the elegance of Europe-mahogany furniture, a piano, rugs, mirrors--all that only four paces from the hut of an Iroquois. In the evening when the servants had returned from the fields or the woods with the axe or the plow, the windows were thrown open; accompanying themselves on the piano, the daughters of my host would sing the music of Paisiello and Cimarosa in sight of the wilderness and sometimes with the sound of a cataract in the background.

On the best lands towns were being established. One cannot imagine the feeling and pleasure afforded by seeing the spire of a new steeple being thrust up in the midst of an old American forest. English manners follow the English everywhere: after I had gone through country where there was no trace of inhabitants, I saw the sign of an inn hanging on the branch of a tree by the roadside and swinging in the wind of the wilderness. Hunters, planters, Indians, met at these caravanseries; but the first time I rested at one I swore that it would indeed be the last.

One night, as I entered one of those singular hostelries, I was stupefied at the sight of an immense circular bed built around a post:` each traveler came to take his place in this bed, his feet at the center post, his head on the circumference of the circle, so that the sleepers were arranged symmetrically like the spokes of a wheel or the ribs of a fan. After a little hesitation, however, I placed myself in this contraption because I saw no one in it. I was beginning to fall asleep when I felt a man's leg slide along mine: it was the leg of my guide, that great devil of a Dutchman, who was stretching out next to me. I never felt greater horror in my life. I leapt from this hospitable basket, cordially cursing the manners of our good ancestors. I went out to sleep in my coat in the light of the moon; that companion of the traveler was entirely agreeable, cool, and pure.

The manuscript is missing here, or rather what it contained has been inserted in my other works. After several days' walk, I arrived at the Genesee River; on the other side of that river I saw the marvel of the rattlesnake charmed by the sound of a flute; farther along I met an Indian family, and I spent the night with that family some distance from Niagara Falls. The story of this meeting and the description of that night are to be found in the Historical Essay and in The Genius of Christianity.

The savages of Niagara Falls, in the English territory, were charged with guarding the frontier of Upper Canada in this area. They came before us armed with bows and arrows and kept us from passing.

I was obliged to send the Dutchman to Fort Niagara to get a pass from the commander before entering the territories under British domination; that tugged at my heart because I was thinking that France had formerly commanded in these lands. My guide returned with the pass, which I still have; it is signed by a Captain Gordon. Isn't it strange that I found the same English name on the door of my cell in Jerusalem?

I stayed for two days in the village of the savages. The manuscript offers here the draft of a letter I was writing to one of my friends in France. Here is that letter:

§ Letter Written from the Land of the Savages of Niagara § I must tell you what happened yesterday morning with my hosts. The grass was still covered with dew; the wind was coming out of the forests heavy with perfume, the leaves of the wild mulberry were loaded with the cocoons of a kind of Silkworm, and the cotton plants of the country, turning back their expanded capsules, looked like white roses.

The Indian women, busy with diverse tasks, were gathered together at the foot of a big red ash. Their smallest children were hung in nets in the branches of the tree: the breeze of the woods rocked those aerial cradles with an almost imperceptible movement. The mothers got up from time to time to see if their children were sleeping and if they had not been wakened by a multitude of birds singing and flitting about. This scene was charming. We were seated at one side, the interpreter and I, with the warriors, seven of them; we all had large pipes in our mouths; or three of these Indians spoke English. At a distance, young boys were playing; but in the course of their games, jumping, running, throwing balls, they spoke not a word. There were not to be heard the deafening cries of European children; these young savages bounded like bucks, and they were as mute as bucks are. A big boy of seven or eight, detaching himself from the group at times, would come to his mother to suck and then would return to play with his friends.

The child is never forcibly weaned; after feeding on other foods, he drains his mother's breast, like a cup drained at the end of a banquet. When the entire nation is dying of hunger, the child still finds in the maternal breast a source of life. This custom is perhaps one of the causes which prevent the American tribes from increasing as much as the European families.

The fathers spoke to the children and the children replied to the fathers. I had my Dutchman report the conversation to me. Here is what happened:

A savage about 30 years old called his son and suggested that he moderate his jumping; the child answered, "That is reasonable." And, without doing what the father told him, he returned to the game.

The grandfather of the child called him in turn, and said to him, "Do that"; and the little boy obeyed. Thus the child disobeyed his father, who asked him, and obeyed his grandfather, who ordered him. The father is almost nothing for the child.

The child is never punished; he recognized only the authority of age and of his mother. A crime considered frightful and unheard of among the Indians is that of a son rebellious to his mother. When she grows old, he feeds her.

As for the father, as long as he is young, the child gives him no consideration; but when he advances in life, his son honors him, not as a father, but as an old man, that is, as a man of good advice and experience.

This way of raising children in their full independence should make them prey to ill humor and caprice; however the children of the savages have neither caprice nor ill humor because they want only that which they can obtain. If it happens that a child cries for something that his mother does not have, he is told to go get that thing where he saw it; now, since he is not the stronger party and since he feels his weakness, he forgets the object of his desires. If the savage child obeys no one, no one obeys him: there lies the whole secret of his joy and his reason.

The Indian children do not quarrel, do not fight. They are neither noisy, annoying, nor surly; they have in their appearance something serious, like happiness, something noble, like independence.

We could not raise our youth this way; we would have to start by relieving ourselves of our vices; now we find it easier to shut them up in the hearts of our children, being careful only to keep these vices from being seen on the outside.

When the young Indian feels growing within him the taste for fishing, hunting, war, or politics, he studies and imitates the arts that he sees his father practicing. Then he learns to sew a canoe, braid a net, use the bow, the gun, the tomahawk, cut down a tree, build a hut, explain necklaces. What is an amusement for the son forms the father's authority: his right of strength and intelligence is thus recognized, and this right gradually leads him to the power of the Sachem.

The girls enjoy the same liberty as the boys: they do more or less as they wish, but they remain more with their mothers, who teach them the tasks of the home. When a young Indian girl has acted badly, her mother is content to throw some drops of water in her face and to say to her, "You dishonor me." This reproach rarely misses its effect.

Until noon we stayed at the door of the cabin; the sun had become burning hot. One of our hosts went toward the little boys and said to them, "Children, the sun will eat your heads, go and sleep." They all cried out, "That is so." And, an indication of their obedience, they continued to play after having agreed that the sun would eat their heads.

But the women got up, one showing sagamite in a wooden bow!, another a favorite fruit, a third unrolling a sleeping mat. They called the obstinate troop, joining to each name a word of tenderness. Immediately the children flew toward their mothers like a flock of birds. The women caught hold of them, laughing. With a certain amount of difficulty each one of them took her son away. Clasped in the maternal arms, each child was eating what had just been given him.

Farewell: I do not know if this letter written from the depths of the woods will ever reach you.

I went from the Indian village to the cataract of Niagara. The description of this cataract, placed at the end of Atala, is too well known to be reproduced here; moreover, it figures in note of the Historical Essay; but there are some details in this same note which are so closely bound up with my trip that think I should repeat them here.

At the cataract of Niagara, the Indian ladder that used to be there being broken, I determined, in spite of the protests of in guide, to reach the bottom of the falls down a rocky cliff about 200 feet high. I ventured down. In spite of the bellowing of the cataract and the frightful abyss that boiled below me, I kept my head and reached a place about 40 feet from the bottom But here the smooth and vertical rock face no longer offered any roots or cracks for my feet. I hung full length by my hands, unable to go up or down, feeling my fingers opening bit by bit with the fatigue of holding up my body and seeing death as inevitable. There are few men who have spent in their lives two minutes as I counted them then, hanging over the abyss of Niagara. Finally my hands opened and I fell. By the most unbelievable luck, although I was on the bare rock, where I should have been broken to bits, I did not feel much pain; I was a half-inch from the abyss, and I had not rolled into it, but when the coldness of the water began to penetrate me, I realized that I had not come out unscathed, as I had first thought. I felt an unbearable pain in my left arm; I had broken it above the elbow. I signaled my guide, who was looking at me from above, and he ran to get some savages, who with a great deal of difficulty hoisted me up with birch ropes and took me to their camp.

That was not the only risk I ran at Niagara. When I arrived, I had gone to the falls holding my horse's bridle twisted around My arm. While I leaned over to look down, a rattlesnake stirred in the nearby bushes; the horse was frightened and reared back toward the abyss. I couldn't free my arm from the reins, and the horse, more and more frightened, dragged me after him. Already his front legs were going over the edge, and crouching on the edge of the abyss he held on only with the strength of his hind quarters. It was all over with me, when the animal, astonished by the new danger, made a new effort and by a kind of pirouette jumped back ten feet from the edge.

I had but a simple fracture of the arm: two splints, a bandage, and a sling sufficed to cure me. My Dutchman did not wish to go farther; I paid him off and he returned home. I made a new bargain with some Canadians of Niagara who had part of their family at Saint Louis of the Illinois, on the Mississippi.

The manuscript now presents a general view of the lakes of 'Canada.


The overflow of the waters of Lake Erie is discharged into Lake Ontario after having formed the cataract of Niagara. Around Lake Ontario the Indians found white balm in the balsam, sugar in the maple, in the walnut and in the wild cherry, red dye in the bark of the perousse, roofing for their huts in the bark of the white wood; they found vinegar in the clusters of the vinegar plant, honey and cotton in the the wild asparagus, oil for their hair in the sunflower, and a panacea for wounds in the universal plant. The Europeans have replaced these gifts of nature by the productions of art; the savages have disappeared.

Lake Erie is more than a hundred leagues in circumference. The nations that peopled its shores were exterminated by the Iroquois two centuries ago; some wandering hordes then infested the places where no one dared stop.

It is a frightening thing to see the Indians venturing out in bark canoes on this lake where the storms are terrible. They hang their Manitous from the bows of the vessels and strike out in the midst of blizzards and high waves. These waves, as high as the edges of the canoes or higher, seem about to engulf them. The hunters' dogs, their paws on the edge, give out lamentable cries while their masters, keeping a deep silence, strike the waters regularly with their paddles. The canoes advance in a single line. In the prow of the first stands a chief who repeats the monosyllable OAH, the first vowel on a high and short note, the second on a low and long one; in the last canoe another chief is standing, maneuvering a large oar as a rudder. The other warriors are seated, their legs crossed, in the bottoms of the canoes. Through the fog, snow, and waves, all that can be seen are the feathers ornamenting the Indians' heads, the stretched-out necks of the howling dogs, and the shoulders of the two Sachems, pilot and seer, seemingly the gods of these waters.

Lake Erie is also famous for its snakes. At the west end of the lake, from the Viper Islands to the shore of the mainland for a space of more than 20 miles, extend wide patches of water lilies. In the summer the leaves of these plants are covered with snakes interwoven with one another. When the reptiles happen to move in the rays of sunlight, one sees rolling rings of azure, red, gold, and ebony; one can make out in these horrible double and triple knots only sparkling eyes, tongues with a triple fork, maws of fire, tails armed with darts or rattles which shake in the air like whips. A continuous whistling, a noise similar to the rustling of dead leaves in a forest, comes out of this impure Cocytus.

The strait that opens the passage from Lake Huron to Lake Erie draws its fame from its shady banks and its fields. Lake Huron abounds in fish; there are to be found the artikamegue and trout which weigh 200 pounds. Matimoulin Island was famous; it held the remains of the nation of Ottawas, who according to the Indians descended from the Great Beaver. It has been observed that the waters of Lake Huron as well as those of Lake Michigan rise for seven months and recede in the same proportion for seven more. All these lakes have a more or less noticeable tide.

Lake Superior occupies a space of more than four degrees between the forty-sixth and fiftieth degree of north latitude, and no less than eight degrees between the eighty-seventh and ninety-fifth degree of west longitude, Paris meridian; that is to say that this interior sea is 100 leagues wide and about 200 long, giving a circumference of about 600 leagues.

Forty rivers unite their waters in this immense basin: two of them, the Nipigon and the Michipicoten, are two considerable rivers; the latter has its source in the region of Hudson Bay.

Islands ornament the lake: among others, Maurepas Island on the northern coast; Pontchartrain Island on the eastern shore; Minong Island toward the southern part; and the Island of the Great Spirit or Island of the Souls in the west. This latter could form the territory of a state in Europe; it measures 35 leagues long and 20 wide.

The capes of the lake worthy of notice are: Point Keweenaw, a kind of isthmus stretching two leagues into the water; Cape Minabeaujou, reminiscent of a lighthouse; Cape Thunder, near the inlet of the same name, and Cape Standingrock, which rises perpendicularly from the strand like a broken obelisk.

The southern shore of Lake Superior is low, sandy, sheltered; however, the northern and eastern shores are mountainous and present a series of rocks rising in cliffs. The lake itself is carved out of rock. Through its green and transparent waters the eye can make out at a depth of more than 30 and 40 feet masses of granite of different forms, some of them appearing newly cut by the hand of the workman. When the traveler, allowing his canoe to follow the current, leans over the side to look at the crests of these underwater mountains, he cannot enjoy the spectacle for long; his eyes become blurred and he feels dizzy.

Struck by the extent of this reservoir of waters, the imagination expands with the space. According to the instinct common to all men the Indians attributed the formation of this immense basin to the same power that rounded the vault of the firmament; they added to the admiration inspired by the sight of Lake Superior the solemnity of religious ideas.

These savages were led by the air of mystery which natiire was pleased to attach to one of her greatest works, to make of the lake the principal object of their belief. Lake Superior has an irregular ebb and flow. Half a foot below the surface its waters, in the great heat of summer, are cold as snow; these same waters rarely freeze in the rigorous winters of these climates even when the sea is frozen.

The products of the land about the lake vary according to the different soils. On the eastern side are to be seen only forests of rickety, warped maples, which grow almost horizontally in sand; on the north, everywhere that the bare rock permits vegetation in some gorge or on some slope of a valley, there can be seen bushes of thornless currants and garlands of a kind of vine that bears a fruit similar to the raspberry but of a paler pink. Here and there rise isolated pine trees.

Among the great number of sites afforded by these solitudes, two are particularly noteworthy. Upon entering Lake Superior by the strait of Sainte Marie, one sees at the left some islands curving in a half-circle, which, covered with flowering trees, look like bouquets whose stems are dipping into the water; on the right, the capes of the mainland advance into the waves. Some are covered with a lawn that unites its green to the double azure of the sky and the wave. The others, composed of red and white sand, resemble, on the background of the bluish lake, the threads of a tapestry or the contrasting pieces of an inlay. Between these long bare capes appear great promontories covered with woods which are reflected upside down in the crystal below. Sometimes the closely spaced trees form a thick curtain on the coast; at times widespread, they border the land as along avenues, and then their spaced trunks open up miraculous vistas. The plants, the rocks, the colors diminish in size or change hue as the scene is more or less distant.

These islands in the south and these promontories in the east, jutting out in a western direction toward one another, form and envelop a vast roadstead which is tranquil when the storms stir up the other regions of the lake. Here frolic thousands of fish and aquatic birds: the black duck of Labrador perches on the point of a breaker; the waves surround this solitary mourner with festoons of their white froth; diving birds disappear, show themselves again, disappear once more; the bird of the lakes glides on the surface of the water, and the kingfisher flutters his azure wings to fascinate his prey.

Beyond the islands and the promontories enclosing this roadstead, at the mouth of the strait of Sainte Marie the eye discovers the endless fluid plains of the lake. The moving surface of these plains rises and gradually is lost in the distance: from emerald green it changes to pale blue, then ultramarine, then indigo. Each hue melting into the next, the last one ends at the horizon, where it is joined to the sky by a bar of somber azure.

This site on the lake itself is a summer site, to be enjoyed when nature is calm and laughing; the second scene is, on the contrary, a winter scene: it requires a stormy and barren season.

Near the Nipigon River rises an enormous and isolated rock, which dominates the lake. To the west stretches a chain of rock formations, some horizontal, others upright in the ground. The latter pierce the air with their and peaks; the former, with their rounded summits. Their green, red, and black slopes, hold snow in their crevices and thus mix alabaster with the colors of the granites and the porphyry.

There grow some of those pyramidal trees which nature incorporates into its tableaux, which resemble great architectural works or masses of ruins. The trees are like the columns of edifices, standing or fallen: the pine rises on the plinths of the rocks, and grasses, bristling with frost, hang sadly from their cornices. It resembles the debris of a city in the deserts of Asia-pompous monuments, which before their fall dominated the woods and which now bear forests on their fallen crests.

Behind the chain of rock formations that I have just described there is a valley dug like a furrow. The Tomb River passes through the center of it. This valley offers in summer only a flaccid yellow moss; filaments of fungus with tops of various colors mark the spaces between the rocks. In the winter, in this solitude covered with snow, the hunter can make out the birds and the quadrupeds painted with the whiteness of the frost only by the colored beaks of the former, the black muzzles and blood-red eyes of the latter. At the end of the valley and far beyond can be seen the summits of the hyperborean mountains, where God placed the source of the four greatest rivers of North America. Born in the same cradle, after a course of 1,200 leagues they go to mix with four great oceans at the four points of the horizon: the Mississippi loses itself to the south in the Mexican Gulf; the Saint Lawrence, to the east, throws itself into the Atlantic; the Ottawa rushes north into the polar seas; and the River of the West bears its tribute to the Ocean of Nontouka.

After this view of the lakes, there comes a beginning of a diary which bears only the indication of the hours.


The sky is pure over my head, the water limpid under my boat, which is flying before a light breeze. On my left are some hills rising like cliffs and flanked with rocks from which hang the morning glory with white and blue blossoms, festoons of begonias, long grasses, rock plants of all colors; to my right reign vast prairies. As the boat advances new scenes and new views open up: at times solitary and laughing valleys, at times bare hills; here the somber porticoes of a cypress forest, there the sun playing in a light maple forest as if shining through a piece of lace.

Primitive liberty, I find you at last! I pass as that bird who flies before me, who travels haphazardly, who has only an embarrassment of riches among the shadows. Here I am as the Almighty created me, the sovereign of nature, borne triumphantly by the waters, while the inhabitants of the rivers accompany my course. The peoples of the air sing me their hymns, the animals of the earth salute me, and the forests bend their upmost branches over my passage. Is it on the forehead of the man of society or on mine that is engraved the immortal seal of our origin? Run and shut yourselves up in your cities; go and subject yourselves to your petty laws; earn your livelihood by the sweat of your brow, or devour the pauper's bread; slaughter one another over a word, over a master; doubt the existence of God, or adore him in superstitious forms. I shall go wandering in my solitudes. Not a single beat of my heart will be constrained, not a single one of my thoughts will be enchained; I shall be free as nature; I shall recognize as sovereign only Him who lit the flame of the suns and who with one movement of His hand set in motion all the worlds.

Seven o'clock in the Evening.

We passed the fork of the river and followed the southeast branch. We had been seeking an inlet where we could disembark along the channel. We entered a small bay thrust in by a promontory covered with a grove of tulip trees. After we had pulled our boat up on the land, some of us gathered dry branches for our fire, and others prepared the ajoupa. I took my gun and penetrated into the nearby forest.

I had not taken a hundred paces when I saw a flock of turkeys busy eating the berries of the ferns and the fruits of the service tree. These birds are rather different from those of their race domesticated in Europe: they are larger; their plumage is slate colored, tipped at the neck, on the back, and at the extremity of the wings with a copper red color; with the proper lighting this plumage shines like burnished gold. The wild turkeys often gather in great flocks. In the evening they perch on the tops of the highest branches. In the morning they let their repeated cry be heard from the tops of the trees; a little after sunrise their clamors cease, and they descend into the forests.

We got up early in order to leave during the coolness of the morning; the baggage was again stowed away; we unfurled our sail. On both sides we had high ground covered with forests. The foliage offered all the hues imaginable: scarlet blending into red, yellow into brilliant gold, vivid brown into light brown, green, white, and azure, washed in a thousand shades, a thousand intensities. Near us was all the variety of the prism; far from us, in the meanderings of the valley, the colors blended together into velvety backgrounds. The trees harmonized their forms: some spread out in fans, others rose in cones, others were rounded in balls, and others were shaped into pyramids. But one must be content with enjoying this spectacle without seeking to describe it.

Ten o'clock in the Morning.

We are advancing slowly. The breeze has stopped, and the channel is beginning to become narrow. The weather is becoming cloudy.


It is impossible to go farther upstream in the boat; we must now change our manner of travel; we are going to draw our boat ashore, take our provisions, our arms, our furs for the night, and penetrate into the forest.

Three o'clock.

Who can tell the feeling one has on entering these forests as old as the world, which alone give the idea of creation as it left the hands of God? The daylight, falling from on high through a veil of foliage, spreads through the depths of the woods a changing and mobile half-light which gives fantastic size to things. Everywhere we must climb over fallen trees, above which rise new generations of trees. In vain I seek some outlet from this solitude. Misled by a brighter light, I advance through the grasses, the nettles, the mosses, the lianas, and the thick humus composed of vegetable debris; but I arrive only at a clearing formed by some fallen pines. Soon the forest becomes somber again; the eye sees only trunks of oaks and walnuts which follow one upon another and seem to come closer together as they recede into the distance. I become aware of the idea of infinity.

Six o'clock.

I had once again glimpsed a bright spot and had walked toward it. Here I am at the point of light, a sad field more melancholy than the forests which surround it! This field is a former Indian cemetery. Let me rest a moment in this double solitude of death and of nature. Is there any asylum where I would rather sleep forever?

Seven o'clock.

Being unable to get out of the woods, we have camped there. The flickering of our fire extends into the distance; lit from beneath by the scarlet light, the foliage seems bloodstained, and the trunks of the nearest trees rise like columns of red granite; but those more distant, scarcely touched by the light in the depths of the woods, resemble pale phantoms arranged in a circle on the edge of deep night.


The fire is beginning to go out, the circle of its light, diminishing. I listen. A formidable calm weighs upon these forests; one would say that silences follow upon silences. I seek vainly to hear in a universal tomb some noise betraying life. Whence comes that sigh? From one of my companions. He is complaining, although asleep. Thou livest; therefore thou sufferest: such is man.

Half past Midnight.

The repose continues, but the decrepit tree cracks and falls. The forests bellow; a thousand voices are raised. Soon the noises weaken and die in almost imaginary distance. Silence once again invades the wilderness.

One o'clock in the Morning.

Here is the wind: it is rushing over the tops of the trees, shaking them as it passes over my head. Now it is like the waves of the ocean breaking sadly on the shore.

The sounds have awakened sounds. The forest is all harmony. Do I hear the deep sounds of the organ, while lighter sounds wander through the vaults of verdure? A short silence follows: the aerial music begins anew; everywhere sweet compIaints, murmurs that contain within them other murmurs; every leaf speaks a different language, each blade of grass gives off its own note.

An extraordinary voice resounds: it is that frog who imitates the bellowing of the bull. From all sides in the forest, the bats hanging from the leaves raise their monotonous song. It seems like a continual tolling, the funeral sounding of a bell. Everything brings us back to some idea of death because that idea is at the base of life.

Ten o'clock in the Morning.

We have continued our trip. When we descended into a flooded valley, branches of oak-willow laid from clump to clump of reeds served us as a bridge to cross the swamp. We are preparing our dinner at the foot of a hill covered with woods; we shall soon climb the hill to discover the river that we are seeking.

One o'clock.

We have started walking again; the woodcocks promise us a good dinner for tonight. The road is becoming steep, the trees are becoming rare; a slippery briar covers the side of the mountain.

Six o'clock.

Here we are at the summit. Beneath us can be seen only the tips of the trees. A few isolated rocks rise up out of this sea of verdure as reefs rise above the surface of the water. The carcass of a dog hung from a pine branch indicates the Indian sacrifice offered to the genie of this wilderness. A torrent rushes at our feet and loses itself in a little river.

Four o'clock in the Morning.

The night was peaceful. We have decided to return to our boat because we have no hope of finding a trail in this forest.

Nine o'clock.

We broke our fast under an old willow covered with morning glory and studded with toadstools. Without the mosquitoes, this place would be very agreeable; we had to make a great smoking fire with green wood to drive away our enemies. The guides announced the visit of some travelers who might still be two hours'march away from where we were. This sharpness of the ear is prodigious. There are Indians who hear the footfall of another Indian four and five hours away if they put their ears to the ground. And indeed two hours later we saw an Indian family arrive. They cried the call of welcome; we answered joyfully.


Our guests have informed us that they had been hearing us for two days; they knew we were palefaces, since the noise that we made walking was greater than the noise made by the redskins. I asked them the cause of this difference; they answered me that it came from the manner of breaking branches and clearing a trail. The white man also reveals his race by the weight of his step; the noise he produces does not increase regularly. The European goes in circles; the Indian walks in a straight line.

The Indian family is composed of two women, a child, and three men. When we had returned together to the boat, we built a great fire at the edge of the river. A mutual benevolence reigns among us. The women prepared our supper composed of salmon trout and a large turkey. We "warriors" are smoking and chatting together. Tomorrow our guests will help us carry our boat to a river that is only five miles from the place where we are.

The diary finishes here. A later stray page transports us to the middle of the Appalachians. Here is that page.

These mountains, unlike the Alps and the Pyrenees, are not mountains regularly piled up one upon the other, lifting their snow-covered summits above the clouds. To the west and the north they resemble perpendicular walls several thousand feet high, from whose top rush the rivers that flow into the Ohio and the Mississippi. In this kind of great chasm, one can see paths winding in the midst of precipices with the torrents. These paths and torrents are bordered by a kind of pine whose top is sea-green, and whose trunk, almost lilac, is marked with dark patches produced by flat black moss.

But on the south and the east, the Appalachians can scarcely continue to bear the name of mountains. Their summits decline gradually right up to the land bordering the Atlantic coast; they pour on this ground other rivers which fecundate forests of live oak, maple, walnut, mulberry, chestnut, pine, fir, sweet gum, magnolia, and a thousand flowering shrubs.

After this short fragment comes a fairly extended portion on the course of the Ohio and the Mississippi from Pittsburgh to Natchez. The piece opens with the description of the monuments of the Ohio. The Genius of Christianity has a passage and a note on these monuments, but what I wrote in that passage and note differs on many points from what I say here.

Imagine the remains of fortifications or monuments occupying an immense extent of space. Four kinds of works are to be noticed: square bastions, moons, half moons, and tumuli. The bastions, moons, and half moons are regular, the moats wide and deep, the entrenchments made of earth with parapets having inclined planes; but the angles of the mounds correspond to those of the moat and are not parallelograms inscribed in polygons.

The tumuli are tombs of circular form. Some of these tombs have been opened; there has been found inside each a grave formed of four stones, in which there were human skeletons. This tomb was surmounted by another tomb containing another skeleton, and so on to the top of the pyramid, which might have a height of 20 to 30 feet. These constructions cannot be the work of the present nations of America; the peoples who raised them must have had a knowledge of the arts superior even to that of the Mexicans and the Peruvians.

Must these works be attributed to the modern Europeans? I have found only Hernando de Soto who penetrated the Floridas in the early days, and he never advanced beyond a village of the Chickasaws, on one of the branches of the Mobile; moreover, with a handful of Spaniards, how would he have moved all that earth, and for what purpose?

Was it the Carthaginians or the Phoenecians who, long ago, in their commerce around Africa and the Cassiterides, were drawn to the American regions? But before penetrating farther west, they must have established themselves on the Atlantic coast; then why does one find not the least trace of their passage through Virginia, the Georgias, and the Floridas? Neither the Phoenecians nor the Carthaginians buried their dead as are buried the dead of the Ohio fortifications. The Egyptians did something similar, but the mummies were embalmed, and those of the American tombs are not; it could not be said that the ingredients were lacking: the gums, resins, camphors, and salts are everywhere here.

Might Plato's Atlantis have existed? Unknown centuries ago did Africa join America? However that may be, an unknown nation, a nation superior to the Indian generations of today, passed through these wildernesses. What was this nation? What revolution destroyed it? When did this event happen? These are questions which throw us into that immensity of the past where the centuries are swallowed up like dreams.

The works of which I speak are found at the mouth of the Big Miami, at the mouth of the Muskingum, at Tomb Creek, and on one of the branches of the Scioto: those which border this river occupy the space of two hours' march as one descends toward the Ohio. In Kentucky, along the Tennessee, in the Seminole country, you cannot take a step without seeing some vestiges of these mornuments.

The Indians are in agreement in saying that their fathers came from the west; they found the works of the Ohio just as they are to be seen today. But the date of this migration of the Indians from the west to the east varies according to the nations. The Chickasaws, for example, arrived in the forts that Cover the mounds scarcely more than two centuries ago. They took seven years to accomplish their trip, marching only once each year, taking with them horses stolen from the Spaniards before whom they were retreating.

Another tradition claims that the works of the Ohio were raised by the white Indians. These white Indians, according to the red Indians, were to have come from the east; and when they left the lake without shores (the sea), they came dressed Eke the palefaces of today.

On the basis of this weak tradition, it has been told that about 1170, Ogan, prince of Wales, or his son Madoc, embarked with a great number of his subjects and that he landed in unknown territory to the west. But is it possible to imagine that the descendants of these Welshmen could have built the works of the Ohio, and that at the same time having lost all the arts, they found themselves reduced to a handful of warriors wandering in the woods like the other Indians?

It has also been claimed that at the source of the Missouri numerous and civilized peoples live in military fortifications similar to those on the edges of the Ohio, that these people use horses and other domestic animals, that they have cities and public roads, that they are governed by kings.

The religious tradition of the Indians about the monuments of their wilderness is not in conformity with their historical tradition. They say there is a cavern in the midst of these works; this cavern is that of the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit created the Chickasaws in that cavern. The land was then covered with water; when the Great Spirit saw this, he built walls of earth on which to put the Chickasaws out to dry.

Let us turn to the description of the course of the Ohio. The Ohio is formed by the union of the Monongahela and the Allegheny, the first river finding its source in the south in the Blue Mountains or Appalachians, the second in another chain of these mountains to the north between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. By means of a short portage the Allegheny communicates with the first lake. The two rivers join below the fort formerly called Fort Duquesne, today Fort Pitt, or Pittsburgh. Their confluence is at the foot of a tall hill of coal; mixing their waters they lose their names and are henceforth known only as the Ohio, which means, and with good reason, "beautiful river."

More than 60 tributaries bring their riches to this river; those whose courses come from the east and the south leave the highlands that divide the tributary waters of the Atlantic from those descending to the Ohio and the Mississippi. Those which are born in the west and the north flow from the hills whose two slopes feed the lakes of Canada and supply the Mississippi and the Ohio. The space where this last river flows generally presents a wide valley bordered with hills of equal height; but as one travels downstream, such is no longer the case.

Nothing is so fertile as the lands watered by the Ohio. They produce on the hills forests of red pines, laurels, myrtles, sugar maples, oaks of four varieties; the valleys offer walnut, service tree, ash, and dogwood; the swamps bear birch, aspen, poplar, and bald cypress. The Indians make cloth with the bark of the poplar; they eat the second bark of the birch; they use the sap of the black alder to heal the fever and to drive away snakes; the oak furnishes them with arrows, the ash with canoes.

The grasses and plants are extremely varied, but those which cover all the countryside are buffalo grass seven to eight feet high, the three-leafed grass [clover], rye-grass or wild rice, and indigo.

At a depth of five or six feet beneath the everywhere fertile soil, one finds generally a bed of white stone, base for an excellent humus; however, approaching the Mississippi, one finds first at the surface a stiff black earth, then a layer of chalk of various colors, and then entire forests of bald cypress buried in the mud.

On the edge of the Chanon, 200 feet above the water, some have claimed they saw characters traced on the walls of a precipice: it has been concluded from that fact that once the water flowed at that level, and that unknown nations wrote these mysterious letters as they passed on the river.

A sudden transition of temperature and climate is noticed on the Ohio. Around the Kanawha, the bald cypress ceases to grow, and the sassafras disappears; the forests of oak and elm multiply. Everything takes on a different color; the greens are deeper, their hues darker.

There are, so to speak, only two seasons on the river: the leaves fall suddenly in November, the snows follow them closely, the northwest wind begins, and winter reigns. A dry cold continues with a clear sky until March; then the wind turns to the northeast, and in less than two weeks the trees loaded with frost are covered with flowers. Summer blends into the spring.

Hunting is abundant. Striped ducks, blue linnets, cardinals, and dark red finches shine in the verdure of the trees; the whet-shaw imitates the sound of the saw; the catbird meows and the parrots who learn a few words around the habitation repeat them in the woods. A great number of these birds live on insects-the green tobacco caterpillar, the worm of a kind of white mulberry, the fireflies, and the water spider serve as their principal food-but the parrots gather in large flocks and lay waste to the sown fields. A bounty is offered for each bird head as well as for each squirrel head.

The Ohio affords about the same fish as the Mississippi. It is fairly common to catch trout from it weighing 30 to 35 pounds and a kind of sturgeon whose head is shaped like the blade of a paddle.

As one descends the course of the Ohio he passes a little river called Big Bone Lick. In America licks are beds of white, somewhat claylike earth, which the buffalo take pleasure in licking; they dig furrows in it with their tongues. The excrement of these animals is so impregnated with the earth of the lick that it resembles pieces of lime. The buffalo seek the licks because of the salts they contain. These salts cure the ruminants of the colic caused by the raw grasses. However, the earth of the Ohio valley is not salty to the taste; it is, on the contrary, quite insipid.

The lick of the Lick River is one of the largest known; the vast trails that the buffalo have traced through the grass to reach it would be frightening if one did not know that these wild bulls are the most peaceful of all creatures. There has been discovered in this lick part of a mammoth's skeleton. The thigh bone weighed 70 pounds, the ribs were curves 7 feet long, and the head 3 feet long; the molars were 5 inches wide and 8 high, the tusks 14 inches from the root to the tip.

Such remains have been found in Chile and Russia. The Tartars maintain that the mammoth still exists in their country at the mouths of rivers. It is also claimed that hunters have pursued them west of the Mississippi. If the race of these animals has perished, as we are to believe, when did this destruction come about in countries so diverse and climates so different? We know nothing of it, and yet every day we ask God to account for his works!

The Big Bone Lick is about 30 miles from the Kentucky River and 108 miles approximately from the rapids of the Ohio. The banks of the Kentucky River rise in wall-like cliffs. Here can be seen a buffalo trail that descends from the top of a hill, springs of bitumen that can be burned in place of oil, caves embellished with natural columns, and a subterranean lake that extends for unknown distances.

At the confluence of the Kentucky and the Ohio there unfolds an extraordinary grandeur: there, from the summit of the Cliff, herds of deer watch one pass along the river; here clumps of old pines extend out horizontally over the waters; smiling plains stretch as far as the eye can see, while curtains of forests veil the base of a few mountains whose crests appear in the distance.

Yet this magnificent country is called Kentucky from the name of its river, which means "river of blood." It owes this grim name to its very beauty. For more than two centuries the nations allied with the Cherokees and those allied with the Iroquois nation fought each other over hunting rights there. No tribe dared settle on this battlefield: the Shawnees, the Miamis, the Piankashaws, the Wayaoes, the Kaskaskias, the Delawares, the Illinois came in turn to do battle. It was only toward 1752 that the Europeans began to learn something positive about the valleys located to the west of the Allegheny Mountains, called first the Endless Mountains, or Kittatinny Mountains, or Blue Mountains. However Charlevoix had spoken of the course of the Ohio in 1720; and Fort Duquesne, today Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh), had been laid out by Frenchmen at the junction of the two rivers that form the Ohio. In 1752 Lewis Evant published a map of the land around the Ohio and the Kentucky; James Macbrive traveled through this wilderness in 1754; Jones Finley reached there in 1757; Colonel Boone explored the whole territory in 1769 and settled there with his family in 1775. It has been said that Doctor Wood and Simon Kenton were the first Europeans to descend the Ohio, in 1773, from Fort Pitt to the Mississippi. The national pride of the Americans leads them to attribute to themselves the majority of the discoveries to the west of the United States; but it must not be forgotten that the French of Canada and Louisiana, arriving from the north and the south, had roamed these regions long before the Americans, who came from the east and who were impeded in their route by the confederation of the Creeks and by the Spaniards in the Floridas.

This country is beginning (1791) to be settled by the colonies of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Carolina, and by some of my unfortunate compatriots, fleeing before the first storms of the revolution.

Will the European generations be more virtuous and freer on these shores than the American generations they have exterminated? Will not slaves till the soil under the whip of the master in this wilderness where man paraded his liberty? Will not prisons and scaffolds replace the open cabin and the tall oak, which bears only the nests of the birds? Will not the riches of the soil bring about new wars? Will Kentucky cease to be the "land of blood," and will the edifices of man better embellish the banks of the Ohio than the monuments of nature?

From the Kentucky to the Ohio Rapids is about 80 miles. These rapids are formed by a layer of rock extending under the water in the river bed; the descent of these rapids is neither dangerous nor difficult, the average fall being scarcely four to five feet in the space of a third of a league. The river is divided into two channels by some islands grouped in the middle of the rapids. When one goes with the current, it is possible to pass without lightening the boats, but it is impossible to go up the rapids without lessening the load.

The river is a mile wide at the rapids. As one glides along the magnificent channel, attention is drawn some distance below the falls to an island covered with a forest of elms woven together with garlands of lianas and virgin vines.

To the north can be made out the hills of Silver Creek. The first of these hills dips perpendicularly into the Ohio; its cliff, cut in great red facets, is decorated with plants; other parallel hills crowned with forests rise behind the first hill; and as they recede, they rise ever higher into the sky until their summits struck by the light become the color of the heavens and disappear.

To the south are savannas sprinkled with woods and covered with buffalo, some lying down, others wandering, some grazing, some gathered in groups, confronting each other with their lowered beads. In the midst of this tableau, the rapids, depending on how they are struck by the sun's rays, repulsed by the wind, or shaded by the clouds, rise in golden bubbles, whiten with foam, or roll in darkened waves.

At the foot of the rapids is a little island where bodies petrify. This island is covered with water at the time of flood; it is claimed that the petrifying virtue is confined to this little comer of land and does not extend to the nearby river bank.

From the rapids to the mouth of the Wabash is 316 miles. This river communicates by means of a nine-mile portage with the Miami of the Lake, which flows into Lake Erie. The shores of the Wabash are high; a silver mine has been discovered there.

Ninety-four miles below the mouth of the Wabash commences a cypress swamp. From there to the Yellow Banks, still descending the Ohio, is 56 miles. The mouths of two rivers are passed on the left; they are only 18 miles from one another.

The first river is the Cherokee or the Tennessee; it comes out of the mountains that separate the Carolinas and the Georgias from what are known as the Western Territories; it flows first from east to west at the foot of the mountains. In this first part of its course it is rapid and tumultuous; then it suddenly turns to the north; enlarged by several tributaries, it spreads out and holds back its waters as if to rest after a precipitous flight of 400 leagues. At its mouth it is 4,000 feet wide, and in a place called the Great Bend it forms a sheet of water a league across.

The second river, the Shanawon or the Cumberland, is the companion of the Cherokee or Tennessee. They spend their childhood together in the same mountains and descend together into the plains. Toward the middle of her course, obliged to leave the Tennessee, she hastens to traverse the wilderness; and the twins, approaching one another toward the end of their lives, expire at a short distance from one another in the Ohio, which unites them.

The country these rivers water is generally broken up by hills and valleys freshened by a multitude of streams. However, there are some fields of cane on the Cumberland and several large cypress swamps. Buffalo and deer abound in this country still inhabited by savage nations, particularly the Cherokees. The Indian cemeteries are frequent, a sad proof of the former populations of this wilderness.

From the great cypress swamp on the Ohio to the Yellow Banks, I have said the route is estimated at about 56 miles. The Yellow Banks are so named because of their color. Located on the northern bank of the Ohio, one must hug them closely because the water is deep on that side. The Ohio has almost everywhere a double shore, one in flood season, the other in dry season.

The distance from the Yellow Banks to the mouth of the Ohio at the Mississippi, at a latitude of 360 51', is about 35 miles.

To visualize the confluence of the two rivers properly, you must imagine that you are starting from a little island off the eastern bank of the Mississippi and that you want to head into the Ohio: at the left you will see the Mississippi, at this point flowing almost east to west, its waters troubled and tumultuous; on the right, the Ohio, more transparent than crystal, more peaceful than the air, coming slowly from north to south, describing a graceful arc. In the intermediate season they are both about two miles wide at the moment of their meeting. The volume of their waters is almost the same; the two rivers, opposing one another with an equal resistance, slow their course and seem to sleep together for a few leagues in their common bed.

The point where they unite their waters is raised some 20 feet above them. Composed of mud and sand, this swampy cape is covered with wild hemp and vines crawling along the ground or climbing up the shafts of buffalo grass; oak-willows also grow on this tongue of land that disappears during the great floods. The rivers, overflowing their banks and joining together, resemble a vast lake.

The confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi presents something that is perhaps more extraordinary yet. The Missouri is a spirited river with frothy and muddy waters; it rushes into the pure and tranquil Mississippi with violence. In the spring it detaches from its banks vast clumps of earth. These floating islands descending the course of the Missouri, with their trees covered with leaves or blossoms, some still standing, others half-fallen, offer a marvelous spectacle.

From the mouth of the Ohio to the iron mines on the eastern bluff of the Mississippi is scarcely more than 15 miles; from the iron mines to the mouth of the Chickasaw is 67 miles. One must travel 400 miles to reach the hills of Margette, watered by the small river of that name; it is an area filled with game.

Why do we find so much charm in primitive life? Why does the man who is most accustomed to exercise his thought forget himself joyously in the tumult of a hunt? Running through the woods, pursuing wild animals, building his hut, lighting his fire, preparing his own meal next to a spring, is certainly a very great enjoyment. A thousand Europeans have known this pleasure and wished for none other, while the Indian dies if he is shut up in one of our cities. That proves that man is rather an active being than a contemplative one, that in his natural condition he needs little, and that simplicity of soul is an inexhaustible source of happiness.

From the Margette River to the Saint Francis River one travels 70 miles. The Saint Francis River received its name from the French and is still a hunting rendezvous for them.

It is 108 miles from the Saint Francis River to the Arkansas or Akansas. The Arkansas are still very attached to us. Of all the Europeans, my compatriots are the most loved by the Indians. That comes from the gaiety of the Frenchmen, their brilliant valor, their predilection for the hunt and even for the primitive life-as if the greatest civilization approached the state of nature.

The Arkansas River is navigable in small boats for more than 450 miles. It flows through a beautiful country, its source -seemingly hidden in the mountains of New Mexico.

From the Arkansas River to the Yazoo River is 158 miles. This latter river is 650 feet wide at its mouth. In the rainy season large boats can go up the Yazoo for more than 80 miles; a small cataract necessitates only one portage. The Yazoos, the Choctaws, and the Chickasaws formerly inhabited the different branches of this river. The Yazoos and the Natchez formed a single nation.

The distance from the Yazoo country to the Natchez country by the river is divided thus: from the Yazoo hills to Black Bayou, 39 miles; from Black Bayou to the Stony River, 30 miles; from Stony River to Natchez, 10 miles.

From the Yazoo bluffs to Black Bayou, the Mississippi is full of islands and makes wide bends; its width is almost two miles, its depth eight to ten fathoms. It would be easy to diminish the distances by cutting through some of these bends. The distance from New Orleans to the mouth of the Ohio, which is only 460 miles as the crow flies, is 856 on the river. One could shorten this distance by 250 miles at least.

From Black Bayou to the Stony River can be seen stone quarries. They are the first to be found between the mouth of the Mississippi and the little river that has taken its name from these quarries.

The Mississippi is subject to two periodic floods, one in the spring, the other in autumn. The first is the greater; it begins in May and ends in June. The current of the river flows at the rate of five miles an hour then, and the opposite movement of the countercurrents is approximately at the same speed: admirable foresight of nature! For, without these countercurrents, boats could scarcely go up river. At this period, the water rises to a great height, inundates its banks, and does not return to the river it has left. As with the Nile, it stays on the land or filters through the soil on which it lays a fertile sediment.

The second flood takes place with the October rains; it is not as considerable as the spring one. During these inundations the Mississippi roars and carries down great quantities of wood. The ordinary speed of the river is about two miles an hour.

The somewhat elevated lands that border the Mississippi from New Orleans to the Ohio are almost all on the left bank; but their distance from the water varies so that sometimes between the heights and the river there are savannas several miles in width. The hills do not always run parallel with the bank; at times they spread out to great distances and open up the view of valleys where a thousand kinds of trees grow; at times they converge on the river and form a multitude of capes which reflect in the waters. The right bank of the Mississippi is level, swampy, and uniform, with only a few exceptions. In the midst of high green or golden cane, which decorates the bank, one can see bounding buffalo or the shining waters of a multitude of pools filled with aquatic birds.

The fish of the Mississippi are the perch, the pike, the sturgeon, and the colles. Enormous crabs have also been caught there.

The soil around the river furnishes rhubarb, cotton, indigo, saffron, wax plant, sassafras, wild flax. A worm of the region spins a f airly strong silk. In some streams, dredges bring up large pearl oysters, but not of the first water. A quicksilver mine is known, another of lapis lazuli, and some iron mines.

The continuation of the manuscript contains the descriptions of the Natchez country and the course of the Mississippi to New Orleans. These descriptions have been entirely carried over into Atala and The Natchez.

Immediately after the descriptions of Louisiana in the manuscript come some extracts from the Travels of Bartram, which I had translated with a fair amount of care. Mixed in with these extracts are my corrections, my observations, my reflections, my additions, my own descriptions, just about as was the case with M. Ramond's notes in his translation of Coxe's Travels in Switzerland. But in my work, everything is much more closeknit, so that it is almost impossible to separate what is mine from what is Bartram's, or even to recognize it frequently. Therefore I leave the piece as it is under this title:


We were driven by a cool wind. The river was going to lose itself in a lake opening before us to form a basin of about nine leagues' circumference. Three islands rose from the middle of this lake; we sailed toward the largest, where we arrived at eight o'clock in the morning.

We disembarked on the edge of a plain circular in form; we put our boat in the shelter of a group of chestnuts that grew almost in the water. We built our hut on a small rise. The easterly breeze was blowing and cooled the lake and the forests. We broke our fast with corncakes and scattered through the island, some to hunt, others to fish or to gather plants.

We noticed a kind of hibiscus. This enormous plant, which grows in low and humid parts, rises to more than ten or twelve feet and ends in a sharp pointed cone; the leaves, smooth and slightly furrowed, are enlivened by beautiful crimson flowers which can be seen from great distances.

The Agave vivipara rose still higher in the salty inlets, and formed a forest of grasses 30 feet high. The ripe seed of this grass sometimes germinates on the plant itself, so that the young seedling falls to earth already formed. As the Agave vivipara often grows at the edge of running water, its bare seed borne away by the waters would be exposed to perish: nature has prepared them while still on the old plant for those specific circumstances, so they are able to fix themselves by their little roots when they escape from the maternal bosom.

The American cypress was common on the island. The stem of this cypress resembles that of a knotty reed, and its leaves resemble a leek: the savages call it apoya matsi. The Indian girls of loose morals crush this plant between two stones and rub their breasts and arms with it.

We crossed a field covered with yellow-flowered jacobaca, pink-blossomed althea, and obelia, whose crown is dark red. Light winds playing on the tips of these plants broke them into waves of gold, pink, and dark red, or dug long furrows in the verdure.

The senega, which is abundant in the swampy lands, resembled in form and color shoots of red willow; some branches crawled along the ground, others rose into the air. Senega has a slightly bitter and aromatic taste. Near it grew the Carolina morning glory, whose leaf imitates an arrowhead. These two plants are to be found everywhere the rattlesnake exists: the one heals the snake's bite; the second is so powerful that the savages, after having rubbed their hands with it, handle with impunity these fearsome reptiles. The Indians tell that the Great Spirit took pity on the redskin warriors with bare legs, and be himself sowed these salutary herbs in spite of the protestations of the souls of the snakes.

We recognized serpentaria on the roots of the great treesthe toothache tree, whose trunk and thorny branches are covered with protruberances as large as pigeon eggs; arctosa or canneberge," whose red cherry grows among the mosses and cures liver trouble. The black alder, which has the property of driving away vipers, was growing vigorously in the stagnant waters covered with scum.

An unexpected sight struck our eyes: we discovered an Indian ruin. It was situated on a hillock at the edge of the lake; on the left there was an earthen cone 40 to 45 feet high; from this cone started an old trail that ran through a magnificent forest of magnolias and live oaks and ended in a savanna. Fragments of vases and utensils of diverse nature were scattered here and there mixed in with fossils, shells, petrified plants, and animal bones.

The contrast between these ruins-these monuments of man in a wilderness where we thought ourselves the first to penetrate-and the youthful appearance of nature caused a strong reaction in our hearts and minds. What people had inhabited this island? Their name, race, the time of their existenceall of it is unknown; they lived perhaps when the world which hid them in its breast was still unknown to the three other parts of the earth. The silencing of this people is perhaps contemporary with the clamor made by the great European nations that fell in turn into silence and left of themselves only debris.

We examined the ruins. From the sandy fragments of the tumulus grew a kind of pink-flowered poppy, weighing down the end of a long, bending, pale green stem. The Indians draw from the root of this poppy a soporific drink; the stem and the flower have an agreeable smell which remains attached to the hand when one touches them. This plant was made to decorate the tomb of a savage: its roots procure sleep, and the perfume of the flower, which outlives the flower itself, is a rather pleasant image of the memory that an innocent life leaves in the wilderness.

Continuing our way and observing the mosses, the hanging gramineous plants, the disheveled shrubs, and all the host of plants of melancholy demeanor which decorate ruins, we observed a kind of pyramidal primrose seven to eight feet high, with greenish black oblong serrated leaves; its flower is yellow. In the evening this flower begins to open; it spreads wide during the night; dawn finds it in all its splendor; toward the middle of the morning it withers; it falls at noon. It lives only a few hours, but it passes these hours beneath a serene sky. So of what importance is the brevity of its life?

A few steps from there was spread out a border of mimosa or sensitive plant; in the songs of the savages, the soul of the maiden is often compared to that plant.

Returning to our camp, we crossed a stream edged with dionaeas; a multitude of ephemera buzzed about them. There were also on this expanse three kinds of butterflies: one white as alabaster, another black as jet with wings crossed by yellow bands, the third having a forked tail and four golden wings barred with blue and spotted with dark red. Attracted by the plants, insects alighted on the dionaeas. But no sooner had they touched the leaves than they closed up and enveloped their prey.

Upon our return to our ajouppa, we went fishing to console ourselves for the lack of success on the hunt. We embarked in the boat with lines and nets and skirted the coast of the eastern part of the island at the edge of the covering of algae and along the shaded capes. The trout were so voracious that we caught them on unbaited hooks; the fish called gold fish were abundant. There is nothing more beautiful than this little king of the waters: he is about five inches long; his head is ultramarine; his sides and belly sparkle like fire; a longitudinal brown stripe crosses his sides; the iris of his wide eyes shines like burnished gold. This fish is carnivorous.

At some distance from the shore, in the shade of a bald cypress, we noticed little mud pyramids rising beneath the water up to the surface. A legion of gold fish patrolled the approaches of this citadel in silence. Suddenly the water boiled; the gold fish fled. Crayfish armed with pincers, coming out of the assaulted place, overcame their brilliant enemies. But soon the scattered bands returned to the charge, vanquished the besieged in turn, and the brave but slow garrison backed into the fortress to gather strength.

The crocodile, floating like the trunk of a tree, the trout, the pike, the perch, the cannelet, the bass, the bream, the drumfish, the gold fish, all mortal enemies of one another, swam pellmell in the lake and seemed to have called a truce in order to enjoy together the beauty of the evening. The azure fluid was painted in changing colors. The waters were so pure that it seemed possible to touch with the finger the actors of this scene being played 20 feet deep in their crystal grotto.

To regain the inlet where we had our camp we had only to abandon ourselves to the current and the breezes. The sun was approaching its setting. In the foreground of the island appeared live oaks whose horizontal branches formed a parasol, and azaleas shining like coral formations.

Behind this foreground rose the most charming of all trees, the papaya. Its straight, grayish, carved trunk 20 to 25 feet high, supports a tuft of long ribbed leaves that are shaped like the gracious S of an ancient vase. The fruit, shaped like a pear, is distributed around the stem: you would take them for glass crystals; the whole tree resembles a column of chased silver surmounted by a Corinthian urn.

Finally, in the background the magnolias and the sweet gums rose gradually into the air.

The sun was setting behind the curtain of trees on the plain. As it descended, the movements of shade and light spread something magical over the scene: there a ray shone through the dome of a great tree and sparkled like a carbuncle set in the somber foliage; here, the light diverged among the trunks and branches and cast on the grass growing columns and moving trellises. In the skies were clouds of all colors, some motionless, resembling great promontories or old towers next to a torrent, others floating in pink smoke or in flakes of white silk. A moment sufficed to change the aerial scene. One could see the flaming maws of furnaces, great heaps of coals, rivers of lava, burning landscapes. The same hues were repeated without mixing; fire stood out on fire, pale yellow on pale yellow, purple on purple. Everything was brilliant, everything was enveloped, penetrated, saturated with light.

But nature laughs at the paintbrush of man. When she seems to have attained her greatest beauty, she smiles and becomes even more beautiful.

To our right were the Indian ruins; to our left, our hunting camp; the island spread before us its landscapes engraved or modeled in the waters. To the east, the moon, touching the horizon, seemed to rest motionless on the faraway hills; to the west, the vault of heaven seemed blended into a sea of diamonds and sapphires in which the sun, half-plunged, seemed to be dissolving.

The animals of creation were, as we, attentive to this great spectacle: the crocodile, turned toward the luminary of day, spewed from his open maw the lake water in a colored spray; perched on a dried branch, the pelican praised in his own manner the Master of nature, while the stork flew away to bless Him above the clouds!

We too shall sing Thee, God of the universe, who hast lavished so many marvels! The voice of a man will be lifted with the voice of the wilderness: Thou wilt make out the accents of the weak son of woman in the midst of the music of the spheres which Thy hand sets in motion, in the midst of the bellowing of the abyss whose doors Thou hast sealed.

Upon our return to the island, I had an excellent meal: fresh trout seasoned with canneberge tips was a dish worthy of a king's table. Thus was I much more than a king. If chance had placed me on the throne and a revolution had cast me from it, instead of eking out my misery in Europe as did Charles and James, I would have said to the covetous: "You want my position, well try the job; you will see it is not so desirable. Slay one another over my old mantle; in the forests of America I shall enjoy the liberty you have given back to me."

We had a neighbor at our supper. A hole similar to the burrow of a badger was the home of a tortoise; the recluse came out of her cave and started walking gravely along the water. These tortoises are little different from sea turtles; they have a longer neck. We didn't kill the peaceful queen of the island.

After supper I sat down by myself on the shore; all that could be heard was the sound of the waves lapping along the beach; fireflies shone in the darkness and were eclipsed when they crossed a moonbeam. I fell into that kind of reverie known to all travelers. No distinct remembrance of myself remained; I felt myself living as a part of the great whole and vegetating with the trees and the flowers. That is perhaps the most pleasant condition for man, for even when he is happy there is in his pleasures a certain foundation of bitterness, an indefinable something that could be called the sadness of happiness. The traveler's reverie is a sort of plenitude of the heart and emptiness of the mind which allows one to enjoy his existence in repose: it is by thought that we trouble the felicity which God gives us: the soul is peaceful; the mind is troubled.

The Indians of Florida tell that in the middle of a lake there is an island where live the most beautiful women in the world. The Muskogees several times tried the conquest of the magical island; but the Elysian retreats, fleeing before their canoes, finally disappeared: a natural image of the time we lose pursuing our chimeras. In that country there was also a Fountain of Youth. Who would want to grow younger?

The next day before sunrise we left the island, crossed the lake, and entered again on the river by which we had descended. This river was full of alligators. These animals are only dangerous in the water, especially when one is disembarking. On land, a child could easily outdistance them walking at an ordinary pace. A way of avoiding their ambushes is to set the grasses and reeds on fire. There is then the curious spectacle of great expanses of water capped with a curtain of flame.

When the crocodile of these regions has reached full growth, it measures about 20 to 24 feet from the head to the tail. Its body is as large as that of a horse. This reptile would have exactly the form of the common lizard if its tail were not compressed on the two sides as is a fish's. It is covered with bulletproof scales, except around the head and between the legs. Its head is about three feet long; the nostrils are wide; the upper jaw of the animal is the only one that moves; it opens to form a right angle with the lower jaw. Beneath the upper jaw are placed two large teeth like the tusks of a boar, which give the monster a terrible appearance.

The female of the alligator lays whitish eggs on land which she covers with grasses and mud. These eggs, sometimes as many as a hundred, form with the mud that covers them little heaps four feet high and five feet in diameter at their base. The sun and the fermentation of the clay hatch the eggs. One female does not distinguish her own eggs from the eggs of another female; she takes under her protection all the sun's broods. Is it not strange to find among the crocodiles the communal children of Plato's republic?

The heat was oppressive; we were sailing in the midst of swamps; our boats were leaking, for the sun had melted the pitch of the caulking. Often we received burning blasts from the north; our scouts predicted a storm because the savanna rat was going up and down the branches of the live oak incessantly; the mosquitoes were tormenting us frightfully. We could see swamp fire in the low spots.

We spent the night very uncomfortably without any ajouppa on a peninsula surrounded by swamps; the moon and all objects were drowned in a red fog. This morning there has been no breeze, and we reembarked to try to reach an Indian village a few miles away; but it has been impossible for us to go up the river very long, and we have had to disembark on the tip of a cape covered with trees, from where we enjoy an immense view. Clouds are rising up from beneath the horizon on th northwest and are slowly climbing into the sky. We are making a shelter for ourselves as best we can with branches.

The sun is becoming overcast, the first rolls of thunder ar heard; the crocodiles answer them with a low rumble, as on thunderclap answers another. An immense column of clouds i extending to the northeast and the southeast; the rest of the sky is a dirty copper color, half-transparent and tinged with light ning. The wilderness lit by a false light and the storm suspended over our heads ready to break offer a scene full of splendor.

Here is the storm! Imagine a deluge of fire without wind or water; the smell of sulphur fills the air; nature is illuminated as if by the light of a conflagration.

Now the cataracts of the abyss open up; the raindrops are not separated from one another: a veil of water joins the clouds to the earth.

The Indians say that the noise of the thunder is caused by immense birds fighting in the air and by the efforts being made by an old man to vomit up a viper of fire. To prove this assertion they show trees where lightning has traced the image of a snake. Often the storms set fire to the forests; they continue burning until the fire is stopped by some watercourse. These burned-out forests are transformed into lakes and swamps.

The curlews, whose voices we hear in the sky in the middle Of the rain and thunder, announce the end of the hurricane. The wind is tearing apart the clouds whose remnants are flying across the sky; the thunder and the lightning attached to their sides follow them; the air is becoming cold and sonorous. Of the deluge there remain only drops of water which fall like beads from the leaves of the trees. Our nets and our provisions are floating in the boats full of water up to the gunwales.

The country inhabited by the Creeks (the confederation of the Muskogees, the Seminoles, and the Cherokees) is enchanting. From place to place the ground is hollowed out by a Multitude of basins called wells, more or less wide and deep. They communicate by underground passages with the lakes, the swamps, and the rivers. All these wells are placed in the center of a hillock where grow the most beautiful trees and whose sloping sides resemble the walls of a vase filled with pure water. Brilliant fish swim in the depths of this water.

In the rainy season, the savannas become kinds of lakes above which rise, like islands, the hillocks we have just mentioned.

Cuscowilla, a Seminole village, is situated on a chain of gravel hills 2,500 feet from a lake; fir trees, at a distance from one another and touching only at the top, separate the town and the lake. Between their trunks, as between columns, could be seen cabins, the lake and its shores attached on one side to the forests and on the other to prairies. This is just about the way the sea, the plain, and the ruins of Athens are seen, I have heard, through the isolated columns of the temple of Olympian Zeus.

It would be difficult to imagine anything more beautiful than the surroundings of Apalachicola, the town of peace. Starting with the Chattahoochee River, the ground rises as it withdraws toward the western horizon; it is not a uniform slope but kinds of terraces stacked one upon another.

As you climb from terrace to terrace, the trees change according to the elevation. On the edge of the river are oak-willows, laurels, and magnolias; higher, sassafras and plane trees; higher yet, elms and walnuts. Finally the last terrace is covered with a forest of oaks, among which can be noted the species from which hang long growths of white moss. Bare broken rock rises above this forest.

Streams wind down from these rocks, flow among the flowers and greenery, or fall in sheets of crystal. When from the other side of the Chattahoochee River one observes these great steps crowned by the architecture of the mountains, he would think he was seeing the temple of nature and the magnificent steps leading to that monument.

At the foot of this amphitheater is a plain where graze flocks of European bulls, squadrons of Spanish horses, hordes of deer and stags, battalions of cranes and turkeys, marbling the green background of the savanna with white and black. This association of domestic and wild animals and the Seminole huts, where one sees the progress of civilization through Indian iLrnorance, give the final touches to this tableau the likes of which could be found nowhere else.

Here finishes, strictly speaking, the Itinerary, or account of places visited; but there remains in the divers parts of the manuscript, a multitude of details on the manners and customs of the Indians. I have gathered these details together in chapters by subject, after carefully reviewing them and bringing my narrative up to date. The 36 years that have passed since my trip have brought much enlightenment and changed many ,things in the Old and the New World; these years have necessarily modified the ideas and rectified the judgments of the writer. Before passing to the manners of the savages, I shall Place before the eyes of the readers some sketches of the natural history of North America.