Utica, New York | Mohawk Valley, NY | Leaving New York and Heading To Buffalo | Buffalo, NY | Michigan | Lake Huron, Michigan | Ste. Marie, Michigan | Mackinac Island, Canada | Green Bay, Wisconsin | What They Learned on Leaving the Wilderness | Memphis

Utica, New York

Tocqueville and Beaumont first encountered Native Americans in the city of Utica, New York. Both authors seems equally struck that they were witnessing a passing tradition, doomed to extinction. Beaumont says: ""I haven't time to tell you what emotions we experience in traversing this half-wild, half-civilized country, in which fifty years ago were to be found numerous and powerful nations who have disappeared from the earth, or who have been pushed back into still more distant forests; a country where are to be seen, rising with prodigious rapidity, new peoples and brilliant cities which pitilessly take the place of the unhappy Indians too feeble to resist them. Half a century ago the name of the Iroquois, of the Mohawks, their tribes, their power filled these regions, and now hardly the memory of them remains. their majestic forests are falling everyday; civilized nations are established on the ruins until the day when other peoples make them undergo the same destiny..."

In Beaumont's words in a sense of the cyclical nature of dominance of power- -what goes up must come down, and this is especially resonant in the situation in France in 1830.Tocqueville echoes many of the same notions that Beaumont does. "One would say that the European is to the other races of men what man in general is to all animated nature. When he cannot bend them to his use or make them indirectly serve his being, he destroys them and makes the, little by little disappear before him. The Indian races melt away before the presence of the European civilization as the snow before the rays of the sun" (192).

Beaumont recalls an encounter with the first Indian women that they see on the trip. they are visiting Mr. Elam Lynds, the founder of the penitentiary system in Syracuse.

"I did not stop at Oneida Castle but while passing I saw on the road two Indian women walking barefoot. Their hair was black and dirty, their skin coppery, their faces extremely ugly. they wear on their backs a linen covering, although we are in the month of July. I seems to be seeing our French poor, taken among those reduced to the greatest misery. these savages in barbarism did at least have dignity, there was something noble and great in this wholly natural life. Now we seem them degraded and degenerate; they no longer know how to get on without clothes, they have to have liquor which makes them drunk moreover they take but the vices of civilization and the rags of Europe." (194)

Mohawk Valley

Pierson asserts that neither Tocqueville nor Beaumont "knew what to make of the Mohawk valley...Was it not in the very forests they were traversing that Chateubriand, Tocqueville's famous uncle, had encountered his first Indians--a magnificent group of savages bounding and circling to the sound of a flute played by a little French cook, whom, so it seems, the braves had hired as a dancing master?"

Later he asserts that "the two young Frenchmen were shocked. did there belong to the race of Indians of whom they has read?"

The real Indians were said to be further West.--brings up questions of authenticity--what is a "real" Indian and what isn't? What makes an Indian-- biology, culture? Here the Frenchmen are assuming that culture makes the Indian--those that are acculturated lose their authenticity. Yet, when the Cherokees developed their own language, newspapers, printing press, etc., they were hardly accepted as authentic. Time and time again, their race doomed them to inequality.

During an interview with Mr. Spencer one of the two told him about their interest in American Indians. "So Mr. Spencer told them some illuminating anecdotes of one of the great Indians he had known. these tales of the famous Red Jacket seemed worthy of record, and Tocqueville made haste to set them down." (224)

Leaving New York and Heading To Buffalo

On leaving New York, and in measure as we advanced toward the northwest, the goal of our voyage seemed to flee before us. We passed through places celebrated in the history of the Indians, we encountered valleys they have named, we crossed streams which still hear the name of their tribes; but everywhere the hut of the savage had riven place to the house of civilized man, the forests had fallen, the solitude was coming to life.

However, we seemed to be marching on the trail of the indigenies. Ten years ago, we were told, they were here; there, five years ago; there two years ago. On the spot where you see the most beautiful church of the village, one man told us, I chopped down the first tree of the forest. Here, another related, was held the great council of the Iroquois confederation.--And what has happened to the Indians? said I.--The Indians, answered our host, have gone I don't know exactly where, beyond the Great Lakes. Their race is dying. They are not made for civilization; it kills them.

Man accustoms himself to everything: to death on the battlefield, to death in the hospitals, to killing and suffering. He trains himself to every spectacle. An ancient people, the first and legitimate master of the American continent, is melting away each day like snow in the rays of the sun, and is visibly disappearing from the surface of the earth. In the same regions and in its place another race is growing up with an even more astonishing speed. By its agency the forests fall, the swamps dry up. Lakes as large as seas, immense rivers, vainly oppose its triumphal progress. The wildernesses become villages; the villages, towns. A daily witness of all these marvels, the American sees nothing astonishing in them. This unbelievable destruction, this still more surprising growth seem to him the usual procedure of the events of this world. He accustoms himself to them as to the immovable order of nature.

It's thus that, always in quest of the savages and the wilderness, we covered the three hundred and sixty miles separating New-York from Buffalo.

The first object which struck our sight was a great number of Indians gathered that day at Buffalo to receive payment for the lands which they have ceded to the United States.

I don't believe I've ever experienced a more complete disappoint- ment than at the sight of those Indians. I was full of memories of M. de Chateaubriand and of Cooper, and in the indigenies of North America I was expecting to see savages on whose faces nature would have left the trace of some of those proud virtues which the spirit of liberty produces. I thought to find in them men whose bodies had been developed by hunting and war and who would lose nothing by being seen in their nakedness. One can imagine my astonishment on comparing this portrait with what follows.

The Indians I saw that day were small in stature. Their limbs, so far as it was possible to judge under their clothes, were thin and unmuscular; their skin, instead of being copper-red in colour, as commonly believed, was deep bronze, so that at first sight it seemed much like the skin of mulattoes. Their hair, black and gleaming, fell singularly straight to their neck and shoulders. Their mouths were generally beyond measure large, the expression of their faces ignoble and bad. Their physiognomy betrayed that profound depravity that only a long abuse of the benefits of civilization can produce. One would have said men belonging to the very lowest classes in our great European cities, and yet they were still savages. To the vices got from us was added something barbarous and uncivilized which made them still a hundred times more repulsive. These Indians did not carry arms; they were covered with European clothes, but did not wear them as we do. One saw that they were not accustomed to their use, and that they still felt imprisoned in their folds. To the adornments of Europe they joined the products of savage luxury, feathers, enormous ear rings, and collars of shells. Their movements were quick and disjointed, their voices shrill and discordant, their eyes restless and wild. At first one would have been tempted to see in each of them only a beast of the forest, who had been educated to look like a man but who remained none the less an animal. Yet these feeble and depraved beings belonged to one of the most celebrated tribes of the ancient American world. We had before us, and pity it is to say so, the last remains of that famous confederation of the Iroquois, which was known for its forceful intelligence no less than for its courage, and which long held the balance between the two greatest nations of Europe.

One would be wrong, however, to judge the Indian race by this unpleasant sample, this offshoot of a wild tree which has grown in the mud of our towns. That would be to repeat the mistake that we made ourselves and that we had the opportunity to recognize as such later on.

That evening we went outside the town and, not far from the last houses, we perceived an Indian Iying on the edge of the road. It was a young man. He lay without movement, and we thought him dead. Some stifled groans which escaped painfully from his chest told us he was still living and was struggling against one of those dangerous drunkennesses caused by brandy. The sun had already gone down; the earth was becoming more and more damp. Everything indicated that this unfortunate man would breathe his last sigh there unless he were succoured. It was the hour that the Indians were leaving Buffalo to regain their village; from time to time a group of them came to pass near us. They approached, brutally turned the body of their compatriot over so as to know who it was, and then resumed their march without even deigning to reply to our observations. Most of these men were themselves drunk. There came finally a young Indian woman who at first seemed to draw near with a certain interest. I believed her the wife or the sister of the dying man. She considered him attentively, called him by name in a loud voice, felt of his heart and, being assured he was alive, tried to draw him from his lethargy. But as her efforts were without effect, we saw her enter into a fury against the inanimate body lying before her. She struck his head, twisted his face with her fingers, stamped on him with her feet. In yielding to these acts of ferocity she gave utterance to some wild and inarticulate cries that seem to ring in my ears to this hour. We finally felt we ought to interven and we peremptorily ordered her away. She obeyed, but as she disappeared we heard her give a shout of barbarous laughter.

Beaumont described this same scene in the following way: An Indian woman, said to be his wife, approached, shook his head violently, banging his head against the ground. As the unhappy man gave no sign of life, she uttered a cry and began laughing stupidly. A little further on we saw an Indian woman, completely drunk, being carried along by two or three Indians leaving town to regain their forests Bt. to Chabrol, on board the Ohio on Lake Erie. z4 [?] July 1831 (BBlb) (Pierson 234).

Tocqueville: Back in town, we spoke to several persons about the young Indian. We spoke of the imminent danger to which he was exposed; we even offered to pay his expenses at an inn. All that was useless. We couldn't persuade anyone to budge. Some said to us: these men are used to drinking to excess and to Iying on the ground; they don't die from such accidents. Others admitted that the Indian would probably die, but one read on their lips this half-expressed thought: What is the life of an Indian? That was the general sentiment. In the heart of this society, so policed, so prudish, so sententiously moral and virtuous, one encounters a complete insensibility, a sort of cold and implacable egoism when it's a question of the American indigenies. The inhabitants of the United States do not hunt the Indians with hue and cry as did the Spaniards in Mexico. But it's the same pitiless instinct which animates the European race here as everywhere else.

How many times, in the course of our travels, have we not encountered honest citizens who, in the evening tranquilly seated by the fireside, said to us: Each day the number of the Indians grows less and less! It is not that we often make war on them, however; the brandy which we sell them cheap kills more of them every year than could our most deadly weapons. This world belongs to us, add they. God, in denying its first inhabitants the faculty of civilizing themselves, has predestined them to inevitable destruction. The true proprietors of this continent are those who know how to take advantage of its riches.

Satisfied with his reasoning, the American goes to the temple where he hears a minister of the gospel repeat to him that men are brothers and that the Eternal Being, who has made them all on the same model, has given all the duty to succour each other.

Buffalo, New York

Tocqueville jotted in his diary: "Arrival at Buffalo. Walk in the town. A multitude of savages in the streets (day of a payment), new ideas that they suggest. Their ugliness, their strange air, their bronzed and oily hide, their long hair black and stiff, their European clothes that they wear like savages...Population brutalized by our wines and liquors. More horrible than the equally brutalized peoples of Europe. Something of the wild beast besides. Contrast with the moral and civilized people all about.

On the next night in Buffalo, Tocqueville modified his reaction a bit--"Second glimpse at the Indians. Less disagreeable impression than the evening before. Several of them resembling our peasants in the feature (with savage color, however) the skin of Sicilians. Not one Indian woman passable." (Pierson 225)


It had been suggested to us that we apply to a Mr. Williams who, having long traded with the Chippewa Indians and having a son established at Saginaw, might furnish us with useful information.

After having made some miles in the woods and as we were beginning to fear that we had already missed our man's house, we encountered an old man busy working a small garden; we approached him, it was Mr. Williams himself.

He received us with great benevolence and gave us a letter for his son. We asked him if we did not have anything to fear from the Indian tribes whose territory we were going to cross. Mr. Williams rejected this idea with a sort of indignation.--No, no, said he; you can proceed without fear. For my part, I should sleep more calmly among the Indians than among the whites.

I note this as the first favourable impression about the Indians that I have received since my arrival in America. In the thickly settled regions they are spoken of only with a mixture of fear and scorn, and I believe that there, in fact, they deserve these two sentiments. It has already been possible to see what I thought of them myself when I encountered the first of them at Buffalo. As one advances in this diary and follows me among the Europeans of the frontier and the Indian tribes themselves, one will conceive an idea at the same time more honourable and more just of the first inhabitants of America.

After having left Mr. Williams, we pursued our way in the woods. From time to time a small lake (this district is full of them) appears like a sheet of silver under the forest foliage. It is difficult to imagine the charm which surrounds these pretty places where man has not fixed his dwelling and where still reign a profound peace and an uninterrupted silence.

In the Alps I have visited some fearful solitudes, where nature refused to yield to cultivation but where it deploys, even to the point of horror, a grandeur that transports and impassions the soul. Here the solitude is no less profound, but it does not give rise to the same impressions. The only feelings one experiences in journeying through these flowered wildernesses where, as in Milton's Paradise, all is prepared to receive man, are a tranquil admiration, a vague distaste for civilized life, a sweet and melancholy emotion, a sort of wild instinct which makes one reflect with sadness that soon this delightful solitude will be completely altered. In fact, the white race is already advancing through the surrounding woods, and in a few years the European will have cut the trees reflected in the limpid waters of the lake and forced the animals peopling its banks to retire to new wildernesses.

Always progressing, we came into a region of a different appearance. The soil was no longer even, but cut by hills and valleys. Several of these hills were most savage in appearance.

It was on one of these picturesque trails that, having suddenly turned around to contemplate the imposing spectacle we were leaving behind us, to our great surprise we saw near the crupper of our horses an Indian who seemed to be following us step by step.

He was a man about thirty years of age, tall and admirably proportioned as almost all of them are. His black gleaming hair fell to his shoulders except for two tresses attached on the top of his head. His face was daubed with black and red. He was covered by a kind of blue blouse, very short. He wore some red mittas: these are a kind of trouser which only go to the upper thigh; and his feet were garnished with moccasins. By his side hung a knife. In his right hand he held a long carbine, and in his left two birds which he had just killed.

The first sight of this Indian made a rather disagreeable impression on us. The place was ill chosen to resist an attack. On our right a forest of pines rose to an immense height in the air; on our left stretched a deep ravine at the bottom of which tumbled a rocky stream which the thick foliage hid from our view and toward which we were blindly descending! To put our hands on our guns, turn about, and face the Indian in the path was the work of an instant. He himself stopped; we stood for a half minute in silence.

His face presented all the characteristic traits which distinguish the Indian race from all the others. In his perfectly black eyes burned the wild fire which still animates the glance of the half-breed and is only lost with the second or third generation of white blood. His nose was arched in the middle, lightly flattened at the point; his cheekbones, high; and his mouth, deeply cut, revealed two rows of teeth, sparkling white, which gave sufficient proof that the savage, more cleanlly than his American neighbour, did not spend his day chewing tobacco leaves.

I have said that at the moment we turned about, putting our hands to our arms, the Indian had stopped. He underwent the rapid examination we made of his person with absolute impassiveness, with a glance direct and motionless. As he saw that we on our side had no hostile feelings, he began to smile: probably he saw that he had alarmed us.

That is the first time I was able to observe how completely the expression of gaiety changes the faces of these savage men. I have had a hundred occasions since to make the same remark. A serious Indian and a smiling Indian are absolutely two different men. There reigns in the immobility of the first a savage majesty which gives you an involuntary feeling of terror. Does this same man smile, his face takes on an expression of naivete and benevolence that gives it real charm.

When we saw our man's face relax, we addressed him in English; he let us speak at our ease, then signed that he did not understand. We offered him a little brandy which he accepted without hesitation as without thanks. Speaking always by signs, we asked for the birds he was carrying, and he gave them to us in exchange for a small piece of money. Having thus introduced ourselves, we saluted him and went off at full trot.

At the end of a quarter of an hour's rapid march, having again glanced behind, I was confounded again to see the Indian behind the crupper of my horse. He was running with the agility of a wild animal, without pronouncing a single word or seeming to lengthen his stride. We stopped, he stopped; we went on, he followed. We went on at full speed; our horses, raised in the wilderness, cleared all the obstacles with ease: the Indian doubled his pace; I saw him now on the right now on the left of my horse, jumping over the bushes and falling noiselessly to earth. One would have said one of these wolves of northern Europe which follow riders in the hope that they will fall from their horses and be the more easily devoured.

The sight of this set face which, now losing itself in the forest obscurity, now reappearing in the daylight, seemed to float at our side, ended by making us uncomfortable. Not being able to conceive what induced this man to follow us at so precipitate a pace, and perhaps he had long been doing so when we discovered him the first time, it occurred to us that he was leading us into an ambush.

We were occupied with these thoughts when we perceived before us in the woods the end of another carbine; soon we were alongside the bearer. We took him at first for an Indian. He wore a kind of short coat which, folded closely about the waist, revealed an erect and well-proportioned figure. His neck was bare, and his feet covered with moccasins. When we came near him and he raised his head, we at once recognized a European and we stopped. He came to us, shook hands with cordiality, and we began to converse.

'--Do you live in this wilderness ? said we to him.--Yes, answered he, there's my house.

And he showed us, among the leaves, a hut much more miserable than the usual log house.

'--Alone ?--Alone.--What do you do here ?--I go through these woods and kill to right and left the game to be found on my path; but there are few good shots to be had now.--And this kind of life pleases you?--More than any other.--But are you not afraid of the Indians?--Afraid of the Indians! I would rather live in their midst than among the whites. No, no, I am not afraid of the Indians; they are worth more than we, if we have not brutalized them by our liquors, poor creatures!

We then showed our new acquaintance the man who was so obstinately following us and who had stopped a few feet away and was standing as motionless as a mark.

"That's a Chippewa," said he, "or as the French call them, a sauteur. I bet he is returning from Canada where he has received the annual presents of the English. His family cannot be far from here."

Having spoken thus, the American signed to the Indian to approach and began to speak to him in his tongue with extreme facility. It was remarkable to see the pleasure which these two men of birth and customs so different found in exchanging their ideas. The conversation evidently turned on the comparative merits of their arms. The white, after having examined the gun of the savage very attentively:

"There's a fine carbine, said he; the English have doubtless given to him to use against us, and he will not fail to do so in the first war. It's thus that the Indians draw on their heads all the misfortunes which overwhelm them, but they don't know any better, poor people!

"Do the Indians," said I, "use these long and heavy guns with skill?"

"There are no shots like the Indians," retorted our new friend with the accent of most profound admiration. "Examine these small birds which he has sold you, sir: they are pierced with one ball, and I am very sure that he shot only twice to get them. Oh! said he, there is nothing happier than an Indian in the regions whence we have not yet made the game flee; but the large animals scent us at more than three hundred miles and in withdrawing they make before us a sort of desert where the poor Indians can no longer live, if they do not cultivate the earth."

As we resumed our journey: "when you come by again," our new friend called, "knock on my door. It is a pleasure to meet white faces in these parts."

I have related this conversation, which in itself contains nothing remarkable, to make known a type of man we have since often met on the edges of settlement. They are Europeans who, in spite of the habits of their youth, have ended by finding in the freedom of the wilderness an inexpressible charm. Clinging to the American solitudes by taste and passion, to Europe through their religion, their principles and their ideas, they mingle love of the savage life with the pride of civilization and prefer the Indians to their compatriots, without however acknowledging them as equals.

We resumed our way, then, and, advancing always with the same rapidity, at the end of a half hour we reached the house of a pioneer. Before the door of this cabin an Indian family had taken up its temporary residence. An old woman, two young girls, several childlren were grouped about a fire to the heat of which were exposed the still palpitating parts of an entire deer. A few feet away an Indian, altogether naked, was warming himself in the rays of the sun, while a small child rolled in the dust near him. It was there that our silent companion stopped; he left us without taking leave and went to sit gravely among his compatriots.

What had induced this man to follow our horses thus for two leagues ? That's something we were never able to divine.

Saginaw, Michigan

The next day, 25 July, our first care was to inquire for a guide.

A wilderness of fifteen leagues separates Flint River from Saginaw, and the road there is only a narrow path, scarce recognizable to the eye. Our host approved of our plan, and soon after he brought us two Indians in whom he assured us we could place every confidence. One was a child of thirteen to fourteen years, the other a young man of eighteen. The body of the latter, without yet having acquired the vigorous shape of maturity, gave already, however, the idea of agility united to strength. He was of medium height, his figure straight and slim, his limbs flexible and well proportioned. Long tresses fell from his bare head. Moreover, he had carefully painted on his face lines of black and red in the most symmetrical way; a ring passed through the membrane of his nose, a necklace and earrings completed his apparel. His accoutrements of war were no less remarkable. On one side the battle-axe, the celebrated tomahawk; on the other a long sharp knife, with whose aid the savages lift the scalps of the vanquished. From his neck was suspended a bull's horn which served him as a powder-box, and in his right hand he held a rifle. As with most of the Indians, his glance was fierce and his smile kindly. Beside him, as if to complete the tableau, walked a dog with straight ears, narrow muzzle, much more like a fox than any other animal, and whose fierce air was in perfect harmony with the countenance of his conductor.

After having examined our new companion with an attention of which he did not seem an instant aware, we asked him what he wanted as the price of the service he was going to render us. The Indian answered a few words in his tongue and the American, hastening to speak, told us that what the savage asked would be valued at two dollars.

"As these poor Indians," added our host charitably, "do not know the value of money, you will give me the dollars and I shall willingly undertake to furnish him the equivalent."

I was curious to see what the worthy man called the equivalent of two dollars, and I followed him very softly to the place where the bargain was consummated. I saw him deliver our guide a pair of moccasins and a pocket handkerchief, objects whose total value certainly did not reach half the sum. The Indian withdrew very much pleased . . . and I slipped away silently, saying like La Fontaine: Ah! if the lions knew how to paint!

Furthermore, it's not only the Indians whom the American pioneers take for dupes. We were ourselves daily victims of their extreme avidity for gain. It's very true that they do not steal, they are too enlightened to commit such an imprudence, but I have never seen an inn-keeper of a large city overcharge with more impudence than these inhabitants of the wilderness among whom I thought to find primitive honesty and the simplicity of patriarchal customs.

All was ready: we mounted and, fording the stream (Flint River) which forms the extreme boundary between civilization and the wilderness, we entered once and for all into the solitude.

Our two guides walked or rather jumped before us like wildcats across the obstacles in the path. Did a fallen tree, a stream, a marsh present itself, they pointed out the best way, crossed themselves, and did not even look back to see us get out of our difficulties. Used to counting only on himself, the Indian has difficulty conceiving that another may have need of help. He knows how to render you a service at need, but no one has yet taught him the art of making it appreciated through courtesies and attentions. This manner of conduct would have elicited some observations on our part, but it was impossible to make our companions understand a single word. And then we felt ourselves completely in their power. There, in fact, the ladder was upside down. Plunged into a deep obscurity, reduced to his own resources, the civilized man was marching like a blind man, incapable not only of guiding himself in the labyrinth he was traversing but even of finding there the means to sustain life. It's in the same difficulties that the savage triumphed. For him the forest had no veil; he was as if at home; he marched there with his head in the air, guided by an instinct more certain than the mariner's compass. At the summit of the tallest trees, under the thickest foliage, his eyes discovered the prey near which the European passes and repasses a hundred times in vain.

From time to time our Indians stopped. They put their hands on lips to invite us to silence and signed to us to dismount. Guided by them, we managed to reach a place whence the game could be seen. It was a singular spectacle to see the scornful smile with which they led us by the hand like children and finally conducted us near the object which they themselves had seen long ago.

As we advanced, however, the last traces of man disappeared. Soon everything ceased even to proclaim the presence of the savage, and we had before us the spectacle we had so long run after: the interior of a virgin forest.

In a thin grove through which objects can be seen at quite a distance, rose in a single bound a high clump composed almost entirely pines and oaks. Obliged to grow on very circumscribed soil and almost entirely deprived of the sun's rays, each of these trees rises by the shortest way to seek the air and the light. As straight as the mast of a vessel, it shoots up beyond all the surrounding forest, and it is only in the upper regions that it tranquilly spreads its branches and envelops itself in their shade. Others soon follow it into that elevated sphere and all, interlacing their branches, form as it were an immense dais, above the earth which bears them.Beneath this still humid vault the aspect changes and the scene takes on a new character.

A majestic order reigns above your head. Near the earth, on the contrary, everything offers the image of confusion and chaos: trunks incapable of longer supporting their branches have broken at half their height and present to the eye only a torn and pointed top. Others, long shaken by the wind, have been precipitated to earth in one piece. Torn from the soil, their roots form so many natural ramparts behind which hundreds of men could easily find cover. Immense trees, retained by the surrounding branches, hang suspended in the air, and fall into dust without touching the earth.

With us there is no region so little peopled, where a forest is so abandoned to itself that the trees, after having calmly lived out their life, finally fall of decrepitude. It's man who fells them in the prime of their age and who clears the forest of their debris. In the American solitude, on the contrary, all-powerful nature is the only agent of ruin as it is the only power of reproduction. As in the forests within the domain of man, death strikes here without ceasing, but no one takes away the debris it has made; each day adds to their number. They fall, they accumulate, one on the other; there is not the time to reduce them quick enough to dust and prepare new places. There are to be found, Iying side by side, several generations of dead. Some, in the last stages of dissolution, present to the eye only a long streak of red dust on the ground; others, already half consumed by time, still preserve their shape. Finally there are some, fallen yesterday, which stretch their long branches on the ground and at each instant arrest the steps of the traveller by unforeseen obstacles....

It has often happened to us to admire on the ocean one of those calm, serene evenings when the sails fluttering peacefully along the masts leave the sailor ignorant of the direction whence the breeze will come. This repose of all nature is not less imposing in the solitudes of the new world than on the immensity of the sea.

When at midday the sun darts his rays at the forest, one often hears in its depths as it were a long sigh, a plaintive cry prolonged into the distance. It's the last effort of the expiring wind; everything about you then enters into a silence so profound, a stillness so complete, that the soul feels penetrated by a sort of religious terror; the traveller stops, then he gazes about:

Pressed against each other, their branches intertwined, the forest trees seem to form only a single whole, an immense and indestructible edifice, under whose vaults reigns an eternal obscurity. In whatever direction one looks, one sees only a field of violence and destruction, trees broken, trunks torn; everything proclaims that the elements here make perpetual war, but the struggle is suspended, the movement is suddenly arrested. At the order of a great power the half broken branches have remained hung from trunks which seem no longer able to support them; trees already uprooted have not had the time to reach the ground and have remained suspended in the air.

He listens, he holds his breath fearfully the better to catch the slightest sound of existence which may strike his ear. No sound, no murmur reaches him. It has more than once happened to us in Europe to find ourselves lost in the woods: but always some sounds of life come there to strike the ear. It was the distant ringing of the nearest village bell, the footfalls of a traveller, the axe of the woodchopper, the sound of a shot, the barking of a dog, or only that confused rumour which rises from a civilized country.

Here not only man is missing, but even the voices of animals are not heard. The smallest of them have left these regions to go nearer human habitation, the larger to go farther away; those who remain keep hidden under shelter from the rays of the sun. Thus everything is still, everything in the woods is silent under the foliage; one would say that the Creator has for a moment turned his face away and that the forces of nature are paralysed.

It is not in this single case, furthermore, that we have remarked the singular analogy existing between the aspect of the ocean and of a wild forest. In one spectacle as in the other the idea of immensity beseiges you. The continuity of the same scenes, their monotony even, astonishes and weighs down the imagination. The feeling of isolation and abandonment, which had seemed so heavy to us in mid-Atlantic, I have found more strong and poignant perhaps in the solitudes of the New World.

On the sea, at least, the voyager contemplates a vast horizon toward which he always directs his glance with hope; he sees before him as far as his eye can carry, and he perceives the sky. But in this ocean of foliage who can indicate the road? In vain do you climb on the summit of the highest trees, others higher still surround you. Uselessly do you climb the hills, everywhere the forest seems to go along with yu, and this same forest stretches before you even to the arctic pole and the Pacific ocean.

You can travel thousands of leagues in its shade and you advance always without seeming to change your place....

'. . But it is time to return to the route to Saginaw. We had already proceeded for five hours in complete ignorance of the place where we were when our Indians stopped and the older, whose name was Sagan-Cuisco, made a line in the sand. He pointed to one end of it crying":Michi-Couté-ouinque (the Indian name for Flint River) and the other extremity pronouncing the name of Saginaw, and, making a point in the middle of the line, he indicated that we had reached the half-way point and that we should rest a few minutes.

The sun was already high on the horizon, and we would have accepted with pleasure the invitation made us, if we had seen some water at hand; but not seeing any in the neighbourhood we signed to the Indian that we wished to eat and drink at the same time. He understood us at once and set off with the same speed as before. An hour later he stopped again and showed us thirty yards off in the woods a place where he made a sign that there was water.

Without awaiting our reply, and without helping us to unsaddle our horses, he went there himself; we hastened to follow him. The wind had recently blown down a tall tree at this place; in the hole formerly occupied by its roots, a little rain water was to be found. This was the fountain to which our guide conducted us, without seeming to think that one might hesitate to use such a drink.

We opened our sack. Another misfortune! The heat had absolutely spoiled our provisions, and we saw ourselves reduced for all dinner to a very small piece of bread, all we had been able to find at Flint River.

Add to that a cloud of mosquitoes drawn by the nearness of water, whom one had to fight with one hand while carrying the morsel to the mouth with the other, and you will have the idea of a picnic dinner in a virgin forest.

While we ate our Indians sat, arms crossed, on the fallen tree of which I have spoken. When they saw that we had finished, they made sign that they too were hungry. We showed them our empty sack; they shook their heads without saying anything. The Indian does not know what regular meal hours are; he gorges himself with food when he can, and then fasts until he again finds something to satisfy his appetite: the wolves do the same in like circumstance.

Soon we thought of remounting, but we perceived with great fright that our mounts had disappeared. Bitten by the mosquitoes and pricked by hunger, they had gone from the path where we had left them, and it was only with difficulty that we were able to put ourselves on their trail. If we had remained inattentive a quarter of an hour, we would have awakened like Sancho with the saddle between our legs. We blessed the mosquitoes who had so quickly made us think of leaving, and we put ourselves on the road again.

The path we were following immediately became more and more difficult to recognize. At each instant our horses had to force a passage through thick clumps or jump over the trunks of the immense trees barring the path.

At the end of two hours of extremely hard travelling we finally arrived on the bank of a shallow but very inaccessible stream. We forded it and, arrived on the top of the opposite bank, we saw a field of corn and two cabins quite like log houses. On approaching we discovered that we were in a small Indian settlement: the pretended log houses were wigwams. Further, the most profound solitude reigned there as in the surrounding forest.

Before the first of these abandoned dwellings Sagan-Cuisco stopped. He carefully examined all the objects round about, then, putting down his gun and approaching us, he first traced a line on the sand indicating in the same way as before that we had yet only covered two thirds of the journey; then getting up he showed us the sun and signed to us that it was fast sinking toward its setting. He then looked at the Wig-wam and closed his eyes. This language was most intelligible: he wished to have us spend the night at this place. I admit that this news greatly surprised and hardly pleased us. We hadn't eaten since morning and we were only moderately anxious to sleep without supping. The sombre and savage majesty of the scenes which we had witnessed since morning, the complete isolation in which we found ourselves, the fierce countenances of our guides with whom it was impossible to enter into understanding, none of these besides was of a nature to beget trust in us.

There was in the conduct of the Indians something singular which did not reassure us at all. The route which we had just followed for two hours seemed still less frequented than the one we had been on before. No one had ever told us that we were to pass an Indian village; and every one had assured us, on the other hand, that we could go in a single day from Flint River to Saginaw. We were therefore unable to understand why our guides wished to retain us overnight in the wilderness.

We insisted on going ahead. The Indian indicated that we should be surprised by the darkness in the woods. To force our guides to continue their route would have been a dangerous attempt. We decided to tempt their cupidity. But the Indian is the most philosophic of men. He has few needs, and correspondingly few desires. Civilization has no hold on him. He is ignorant of and despises its comforts.

I had however noticed that Sagan-Cuisco had paid particular atten- tion to a small osier bottle hanging at my side. A bottle that doesn't break! That was a thing whose utility had appealed to his senses and which had excited his real admiration. My gun and my bottle were the only parts of my European accoutrements which had seemed to ex-cite his envy. I made a sign to him that I should give him my bottle if he conducted us at once to Saginaw. The Indian thereupon appeared violently torn. He looked again at the sun, then the earth. Finally, deciding, he seized his carbine, twice putting his hand on his mouth, he uttered the cry: ouh! ouh! and threw himself before us into the brush

We followed him at full trot and, forcing our way through, we had soon lost the Indian dwellings to view. Our guides ran thus for two hours with greater speed than they had before made.

However the night gained on us and the last rays of the sun had just disappeared in the trees of the forest when Sagan-Cuisco was seized with a violent nosebleed. Habituated though this young man appeared to be, with his brother, to bodily exercise, it was evident that fatigue and want of food were beginning to exhaust his strength. We ourselves be-gan to fear that they would renounce the attempt and want to make us sleep at the foot of a tree. We therefore decided to have them alternately ride our horses.

The Indians accepted our offer without astonishment or humility.

It was a strange sight to see these half naked men gravely established on English saddles and carrying our gamebags and our guns slung on bandoleers, while we walked painfully afoot before them.

Night finally came. A glacial humidity began to spread under the foliage. The obscurity then gave to the forest an aspect new and terrible. One saw about one only confused piled-up masses, without order or symmetry, forms bizarre and disproportioned, incoherent scenes, fantastic images which seemed borrowed from the sick imagination of a man in fever. The gigantic and the ridiculous were as close together there as in the literature of our age. Never had our steps awakened more echoes, never had the silence of the forest appeared to us so formidable. One would have said that the buzzing of mosquitoes was the only breathing of this sleeping world.

As we advanced the shadows became deeper; only from time to time a firefly traversing the woods traced as it were a luminous thread in its depths.We realized too late the justness of the Indian's advice, but it longer a question of going back.

We therefore continued as rapidly as our strength and the night allowed. At the end of an hour we came out of the woods and we found ourselves in a vast prairie. Our guides then stopped, and three times uttered a savage cry which echoed like the discordant notes of a tam- tam. An answer came from the distance. Five minutes after we were on the bank of a river whose far bank the darkness made it impossible to see..

The Indians halted at this place. They wound their blankets about them to avoid the bites of the mosquitoes and, hiding in the grass, they soon formed but a scarcely perceptible ball of wool in which it would been impossible to recognize the form of man.

We ourselves dismounted and waited patiently for what was to follow. At the end of a few minutes a gentle sound was heard and something approached the bank.

It was as an Indian canoe, about ten feet long and, as usual, formed of a single tree. The man who crouched in the bottom of this frail embarcation wore the costume and had all the appearance of an Indian. He spoke to our guides who, at his orders, hastened to take the saddles off our horses and to place them in the pirogue. As I myself was preparing to get in, the seeming Indian came towards me, put two hands on my shoulder and said to me in a Norman accent that made tremble: Don't go too fast, people sometimes drown themselves here (y en a des fois ici qui s'y noient). Had my horse spoken to me I don't think I should have been more surprised.

I stared at the speaker whose face, struck by the first rays of the moon was gleaming like a ball of copper: Who are you ? French seems to be your tongue, said I, and you have the appearance of an Indian ? He that he was a bois-brulé, that is to say the son of a Canadian Indian woman. I shall frequently have occasion to speak of this singular race of half-breeds which covers all the frontiers of Canada and a part of those of the United States. For the moment I thought only of the pleasure of speaking my mother tongue.

Following the counsels of our compatriot the savage, I seated myself at the bottom of the canoe and held myself as steady as possible; my horse, which I held only by the bridle, entered the river and began swim, while the Canadian propelled the craft with his paddle, all the while singing softly, to an old French air, the following couplet, the first lines of which alone I caught:

Entre Paris et Saint Denis II était une fille, etc.

We arrived thus without accident at the other bank; the canoe returned at once to get my companion. I shall remember all my life the moment when he for the second time approached the bank. The moon, which was full, was then rising precisely over the prairie which we had just crossed; half of its disk only appeared on the horizon; one would have said a mysterious gate through which the light of another sphere was escaping to us. The rays coming from it were reflected in the water and shimmered to where I was. On the very path where trembled this pale light advanced the Indian pirogue. One saw no oars, heard no noise of paddles. It glided swiftly and without effort, long, narrow and black, like a Mississippi alligator making toward the bank to seize its prey. Crouched in the point of the canoe, Sagan-Cuisco, head on his knees, showed only the gleaming tresses of his hair; at the other ex- tremity the Canadian paddled in silence, while behind him Beaumont's horse made the water of the Saginaw break away under the impulse of his powerful breast..

There was in the ensemble of this tableau a savage grandeur which then made and has since left a profound impression on our minds.

Disembarked, we hastened to betake ourselves to a house which the moon had just discovered a hundred paces from the stream and where the Canadian assured us we could find lodging. We did in fact succeed in establishing ourselves comfortably and we should probably have repaired our strength if we had been able to get rid of the myriads of mosquitoes with which the house was filled; but that's what we never were able to accomplish.

Village of Saginaw:

Placed on the other side of the stream, amid the reeds of the Saginaw, the Indian throws from time to time a stoic glance at the dwellings of his European brothers. Don't go and believe that he admires their works or envies their lot. In the nearly three hundred years that the American savage has struggled against the civilization which thrusts and envelops him, he has not yet learned to know and to esteem his enemy. The generations succeed each other in vain with the two races. Like two parallel rivers they have for three hundred years been flowing toward a common abyss. A narrow space separates them, but they do not mingle their floods.

It is not, however, that the native of the new world lacks natural aptitude; his nature seems obstinately to reject our ideas and our arts. Lying on his blanket, in the smoke of his hut, the Indian regards with scorn the comfortable dwelling of the European. As for him, he takes a proud pleasure in his misery, and his heart swells and lifts at the evidences of his barbarian independence. He smiles bitterly on seeing us torment our lives to acquire useless riches. What we call industry he calls shameful servitude. He compares the labourer to the ox painfully plowing his furrow. What we call the comforts of life he calls children's toys and women's playthings. He envies us only our arms. When man can shelter his head at night under a tent of foliage, when he can light a fire to drive off the mosquitoes in summer and protect himself from cold in winter, when his dogs are good and the country full of game, what more could he ask of the eternal being?

On the other bank of the Saginaw, near the clearing of the Europeans and, so to speak, on the confines of the old and new worlds, rises a rustic cabin, more comfortable than the wigwam of the savage, more rude than the house of the civilized man (homme policé): it's the dwelling of the half-breed.

When we for the first time presented ourselves at the door of this half-civilized hut, we were surprised to hear in the interior a soft voice singing to an Indian air the canticles of penitence. We stopped a moment to listen. The modulation of the air was slow and profoundly sad; one easily recognized the plaintive melody which characterizes all the songs of man in the wilderness.

We entered: the master was absent. Seated in the centre of the apartment, her legs crossed on a mat, a young woman was making some moccasins. With her foot she was rocking a child whose copper skin and features proclaimed its double origin. This woman was dressed like one of our peasants, except that her feet were bare and her hair fell on her shoulders. Seeing us, she fell silent with a sort of respectful fear. We asked her if she was French."No," she answered, smiling. "English?" "No," said she. She lowered her eyes and added: "I am only a savage."

Child of the two races, brought up in the use of two languages, nourished in diverse beliefs and cradled in contrary prejudices, the half- breeds forms a composite as inexplicable to others as to himself. The images of the world, when they come to reflect themselves in his rude brain, appear to him only a tangled chaos from which his spirit could not extricate itself. Proud of his European origin, he despises the wilderness, and yet he loves the savage freedom which reigns there; he admires civilization and is unable to submit himself completely to its empire. His tastes are in contradiction with his ideas, his opinions with ways. Not knowing how to guide himself by the doubtful light which illumines him, his soul struggles painfully in the web of universal doubt: he adopts contrary usages, he prays at two altars, he believes in the Redeemer of the world and the amulettes of the charlatan, and he reaches the end of his career without having been able to untangle the obscure problem of his existence.

Thus, in this unknown corner of the world, the hand of God had already thrown the seeds of diverse nations. Already several different racess, several distinct faces found themselves here face to face.

A few exiled members of the great human family have met in the immensity of the woods. Their needs are common; they are scarce thirty in a wilderness, where everything defies their efforts; they have to struggle together against the beasts of the forest, hunger, the inclemency of the seasons; and they throw at each other only looks of hatred and suspicion. The colour of their skin, poverty or wealth, ignorance or knowledge, have already established indestructible classifications among them: national prejudices, the prejudices of education and birth divide and isolate them.

Where find in a narrower compass a more complete tableau of the miseries of our nature? One trait however is still lacking.

The profound lines which birth and opinion have traced between the destinies of these men do not end with life but stretch beyond the tomb. Six religions or sects share the faith of this embryo society.

Catholicism, with its formidable immobility, its absolute dogmas, its terrible anathemas and its immense recompenses; the religious anarchy of the Reform; the antique paganism, are represented here. Here they already adore, in six different manners, the Being unique and eternal who has created all men in his image. They dispute here with ardour the heaven that each claims as his exclusive heritage. Moreover, in the miseries of the solitude and the evils of the present, human imagination exhausts itself creating inexpressible pains for the future. The Lutheran condemns the Calvinist to eternal fire, the Calvinist the Unitarian, and the Catholic envelops them all in a common reprobation.

More tolerant in his rude faith, the Indian limits himself to excluding his European brother from the happy hunting grounds he reserves for himself. Faithful to the confused traditions handed down by his fathers, he consoles himself easily for the evils of life, and dies tranquil, dreaming of the always green forests that the axe of the pioneer will never disturb, where the deer and beaver will come to be shot at during the numberless days of eternity (Pierson 260-275).

Saginaw, Michigan: Getting Ready to cross the Saginaw River

Unable longer to hope for sleep, I got up and opened the door of our cabin to at least breathe the freshness of the night. It was not yet raining, the air appeared calm, but the forest was already tossing, and there came from it deep moans and long clamours. From time to time a flash of lightning illuminated the sky. The quiet course of the Saginaw, the small clearing on its banks, the roofs of the five or six cabins, and the belt of enveloping foliage appeared then for an instant like a sublime evocation of the future. Then everything was lost in the most profound obscurity, and the formidable voice of the wilderness made itself heard again.

I was watching this great spectacle, moved, when I heard a sigh at my side and, by the lightning, I saw an Indian leaning like me against the wall of our dwelling. The storm had doubtless just interrupted his sleep, for he cast a fixed and troubled glance on his surroundings.

Was this man afraid of the thunder? or did he see in the shock of the elements anything but a passing convulsion of nature? Did these fugitive images of civilization, which surged up of themselves in the tumult of the wilderness, have for him a prophetic meaning ? Did these groans of the forest, which seemed to be fighting an uneven battle, reach his ear like the secret warning of God, a solemn revelation of the final fate reserved to the savage races? I could not say. But his agitated lips seemed to be murmuring some prayers, and all his lineaments seemed graven with superstitious terror.

At five in the morning we thought to leave. All the Indians of the neighbourhood of Saginaw were absent. They had gone to receive the presents annually made them by the English, and the Europeans were busy with the labours of the harvest. We therefore had to make up our minds to go back through the forest without a guide (Pierson 280).

Lake Huron, Michigan

There were, however, wet prairies and forests within stone's throw; consequently, game and adventure enough for two enthusiastic nimrods. 'I go to hunt in the meadows on the other side of the river St. Clair,' Tocqueville jotted hastily in his diary. 'We first go to the fort. In the forest on the way, the sound of an Indian drum. Some cries. We see approaching eight savages entirely naked except for a small clout. Surprise of the men, smeared with colour from head to foot, their bristling hair full of mud, with a pigtail behind. Wooden clubs in hand, jumping like devils. Fine men. Dance to amuse themselves and to gain money. We give them a shilling. Cries, the war-dance, horrible to see. What degradation. Another dance--heads to the ground. We do not know how to get across the water. Huts in the swamps on the other side. A [canoe?] detaches itself and comes. Terrifying navigation. Good hunt in the swamp.' (Pierson 293)

Ste. Marie,

On nearing Ste. Marie, as the lake narrows,' Beaumont continued his story, 'you encounter a multitude of islands of all sizes, midst which you have to pass....' So crooked was the channel that once they only missed 'by an inch or two running hard aground.' They were told that as one went north in this region, the soil became more barren; hence there were fewer whites, and more Indians. In fact Beaumont began to notice 'canoes filled with Indians, altogether savage. At the noise of our boat and of our music they left their forests and came to cast a curious eye on our steamboat. I can understand their stupefaction. For even to a European these great vessels propelled by steam are without gainsaying one of the marvels of modern industry. While some of them were admiring our manner of navigating, we threw them two or three bottles of brandy, which they received with the liveliest manifestation of joy and gratitude. In the same way they received some pieces of bread that we let fall in their canoe....

When we arrived near Sault Ste. Marie, it was late; we therefore remained in our vessel till the next morning. The place where we brought to was charming, and all evening long we had concert and ball. The echo from the forest was such that it entirely repeated what the hautboy played. Out of curiosity of this fact, I also wanted to make harmony in the virgin forests of America; and at midnight I played on deck the variations of Di Tanti Palpite. Nothing equals the beauty of such a night. The sky was sparkling with stars which were all reflected in the depths of the water; and from place to place on the bank were to be seen the fires of the Indians, whose ear an unaccustomed sound had struck and who doubtless for the first time listened to the airs of Rossini and Auber.

The sixth of August early in the morning we entered the village which bears the name of Sault Ste. Marie. . . Everybody at Ste. Marie speaks French. There are as many Indians as Canadians there. Each day the two populations mingle further. This half-European, half-Indian population is not disagreeable. There is in Indian faces something fierce that is softened by this mixture. The eyes of the savage have a natural vivacity that I have seen with no white man, their defect is to be hard and severe at the same time. But this fire burning in their glances is of great beauty when, without ceasing to be as lively, it loses something of its primitive rudeness, which is what happens through the union of the Indian and the European. The Canadians call métiches those who come of this double origin. I have seen some young métiches girls who seemed to me of noteworthy beauty...

We spent an hour or two at the Pointe aux Pins. There I was presented to an Indian chief, who fell into admiration before my fusil a piston. I fired a shot before him. He was so satisfied that to show me his gratitude he gave me a small tortoise shell.'

Tocqueville had been standing by, watching the savage dogs nosing about the Indian encampment. The chief asked to see his gun. 'Costume of the chief,' he noted,5 'red pantaloons, a blanket, his hair drawn to the top of his head. Two feathers therein. I fire my gun before him. He admires and says that he has always heard that the French were a nation of great warriors. I ask him what his feathers mean. He replies with a smile of joy that it is a sign that he has killed two scouts [Sioux] (he is of the sauteur nation and always at war with the other). I ask him for one of his feathers saying that I shall wear it in the land of the great warriors, and that they will admire it. He takes it out of his hair at once and gives it me, then stretches out his hand and shakes mine.' The grave little Frenchman was much tickled by this solemnity...

The long hours of this passage also supplied the two friends with the opportunity to chat with the Catholic priest whom they had found on board, and to whom they had instinctively gravitated. He seemed, Tocquville noted, 'very ardent in his zeal.'

Tocqueville: Do you sometimes encounter traces of the work of the Jesuits the Indians?

Father Mullon: Yes. There are tribes which retain confused notions of the religion taught them by the Jesuits, and which return very quickly to Christianity. At Arbre Crochu [sic] there are families which received the firsy principles of Christianity I 50 years ago; and they still conserve a few traces of it. When one can reach them, the Indian tribes generally recall with veneration the memory of the Black Robes. From time to time one still encounters in the wilderness crosses once raised by the Jesuits.

Tocqueville: Is it true that the Indians have a natural eloquence?

Father Mullon: Nothing is more true. I have often admired the profound sense vand conciseness of their speeches. Their style has something Lacedemonian about it.

Tocqueville: Do they still make war with the same ferocity?

Father Mullon: The same. They burn, and torment their prisoners in a thousand ways. They scalp the dead and the wounded. They are, however, mild and honest men when their passions are not irritated by war....

Tocqueville: Are the Indians of Arbre Croché fervent?

Father Mullon: (Here the face of Mr. Mul[l]on lit up in an extraordinary way.) I do not know their equals as Christians. Their faith is entire, their obedience to the laws of religion is entire. A converted Indian would rather let himself be killed than to fail in the rules of abstinence. Their life becomes very moral. You could see with what eagerness the Indian population of Ste. Marie came to find me as soon as it was known there was a priest on board. I have baptized many children.

On the Leaving the Wilderness: What Tocqueville and Beaumont Learned According to George Pierson

But what of the Indian? Here Tocqueville and Beaumont were ob- viously less happy in their experiences and observations.

They saw the native American, it was true, in a large variety of situations. They studied him in his degradation in a civilized community; they watched him in the frontier forests, they were with him on the trail and in the fur-trader's post. They even enquired of him from those who, through long association, should have known him well. Being men of intelligence, Tocqueville and Beaumont could not help but recognize that the Indian was indolent, improvident, and unadaptable. They therefore detected some of the fatal flaws of character, unfitting him for civilization. Lastly, they realized that contact with the whites drove away his food supply, while their alcohol brutalized and destroyed him.

Yet the fact remains that this fortnight in the wilderness gave Tocqueville and Beaumont a more favourable opinion of the savage than the experience of the white race would seem to justify. Against the received judgment of generations of Americans, the two young Frenchmen were coming to look on the Indian as in many ways a noble and admirable being. He did not steal, it seemed; and, when not excited to conflict or strong drink, he was the most harmless creature in the world-kindly, peaceful and trustworthy. In striking contrast to his oppressors, he was an honourable person. In short, his character had traduced by calumniators, and, all things well considered, he had been much wronged by the whites. Tocqueville and Beaumont were moved to sympathy with him.

This was an extraordinary conclusion for two such intelligent and level-headed young men to have reached. In fact, the opinion seems so strange, and was later to exercise such an influence, particularly on Beaumont's work, that some explanation is needed.

The explanation is, it happens, relatively simple. Tocqueville and Beaumont had come to America full of impressions from Cooper and Chateaubriand, and full of the liberal and romantic notion, so firmly fixed in the French heart, that the red-skin was that paragon long sought of the philosophers: a noble savage. Their first view of the degenerate Iroquois of Oneida Castle and Buffalo had therefore, in a reaction that was unavoidable, appalled and horrified them. All their convictions seemed destined to be taken away from them. But they could not believe that those were fair specimens of the Indian race. So in Buffalo they had jumped at the opportunity to come to the frontier and verify the facts by contact with savages still uncontaminated by civilization.

In other words, the two friends had proposed to base their opinion on a first-hand study of the Indians of Michigan Territory; and in the end this is exactly what they did. But these Indians of the peninsula were, unfortunately, scarcely more representative of the race than the drunken remnants of the Five Nations. Instead of being of the fierce Iroquis, of the war-like Sioux or predatory Apache, 'Sagan-Cuisco,' and the other savages whom Tocqueville and Beaumont saw, belonged to the relatively peaceful and harmless tribe of the Chippewa, known to the French Canadians as Sauteurs. The result was that the two investigators were deceived. Just as on landing they had taken New Yorkers for typical Americans, so in Michigan they at once assumed that all the different nations of red-men were like the scattered, harmless hunters whom they had before them. Relieved, furthermore, at the restoration of their convictions, and instinctively sympathetic to the viewpoint of the Canadians, the idealistic young men gave play to their imagination. Stories of Indian treachery and barbarity were forgotten; the squalor of the savage was overlooked. Helplessness became injustice; improvidence, lack of white man's avarice; and stoic stupidity once more noble pride.

The expedition to the wilderness, to resume, left the friends with a rich store of memories, and with some illusions. Big, easy-going, generous-hearted Beaumont was to be particularly influenced by the latter, when he came to write his book. Not having a Yankee's cold, calculating egotism, he was already gathering materials for a story of the wrongs of the American Indian. Soon the wrongs of the American negro were to eclipse even these thoughts, and steal the main theme of his novel. Nevertheless, the great scenes of the tragedy would in the end take place on the shores of the Saginaw, 'mid those vast and mournful forests of Michigan, indelible in his memory.

As for Tocqueville, who out of loyalty was never to publish his Quinze Jours, he, also, would not forget the trip to Saginaw. In later, more troubled years, it was to give him calm and peace of mind to recall the fortnight in the wilderness that he and Beaumont had had together. He was often to refer to its incidents in conversation with his friends--especially to the 'delighted wonder' with which he had heard the Canadian Indian at Saginaw begin to sing:

Entre Paris et Saint Denis II était une fille....

(Pierson 287-289)


Thus passed our time,' Tocqueville agreed, 'lightly as to the present; but the future would not leave us tranquil. Finally, one fine day, we saw a wisp of smoke on the Mississip[pli, on the edge of the hori- zon. The cloud drew nearer little by little and out of it came, not a giant or a dwarf as in fairy tales, but a great steamboat, coming from New Orleans and which, after parading in front of us for a quarter of an hour, as if to leave us in uncertainty whether it would stop or continue its journey, after blowing like a whale, finally steered toward us, broke the ice with its heavy timbers and tied up to the bank. The entire population of our universe turned out on the shore of the river which, as you know, formed at that time one of the extreme frontiers of our empire. The whole city of Memphis was in a ferment; they didn't ring the bells because there are no bells, but they cried hurrah! And the new arrivals stepped down on the beach like Christopher Columbuses.

'We were not saved yet, however; the destination of the boat was up the Mississip[p]i all the way to Louisville, and we, our business was to go to New Orleans. We had luckily about fifteen companions in misfortune who were no more anxious than we to take up winter quarters in Memphis. There was therefore a general rush for the cap- tain. What would he do in the upper Mississiplpli? He would in- fallibly be stopped by the ice. The Tennessee, the Missouri, the Ohio were frozen over. Not one of us but insisted that he had seen it with his own eyes. He would be arrested without fail, damaged, perhaps even smashed by the ice. As for us, we were speaking only in his own interest. That went without saying: in his own best interest....

'This neighbourly love lends such warmth to our arguments that we finally begin to shake our man. Yet I have the conviction that he would not have turned around but for a happy event, to which we owe it that we did not become citizens of Memphis. As we were de- bating there on the bank, we heard an infernal music echoing in the forest; it was the noise of a drum, the whinnying of horses, the bark- ing of dogs. There finally appeared a large troup of Indians, old men, women, children, belongings, all led by a European and steering to- ward the capital of our triangle. These Indians were Chactas (or Tchactaws), following the Indian pronounciation. A propos of that, I will tell you that M. de Chateaubriand has acted a little as did the monkey of La Fontaine; he hasn't taken the name of a harbour for a man, but he has given a man the name of a powerful nation of South- ern America. However that may be, you no doubt want to know why these Indians had come and in what way they could be of service to us. Patience, I beg of you; to-day, having time and paper, I don't want to hurry. You shall know, then, that the Americans of the United States, who are reasonable and unprejudiced, and great philanthro- pists to boot, have taken it into their heads, as did the Spaniards, that God had given them the new world and its inhabitants in full owner- ship.

'They have discovered, furthermore, that, it being proved (listen well to this) that a square mile could nourish ten times as many civil- ized men as savages, reason indicated that wherever civilized men could establish themselves, the savages would have to move away. What a beautiful thing logic is. Consequently, whenever the Indians begin to find themselves a little too close to their white brothers, the President of the United States sends them a messenger, who represents to them that in their own best interest it would be well for them to retreat ever so little toward the West. The lands where they have lived for centuries belong to them, indubitably; no one refuses them this in- contestable right; but these lands, after all, they are uncultivated wilder- ness, woods, swamps, a poor property truly. On the other side of the Mississip[p]i, on the contrary, are magnificent lands, where the game has never been disturbed by the sound of the pioneer's axe, where the Europeans will netter. They are more than loo leagues away. Add to this some presents of inestimable price, waiting to reward their complaisance: hogsheads of brandy, necklaces of glass, earrings and mirrors: the whole backed up by the insinuation that if they refuse, it may perhaps be necessary to use force. What to do? The poor Indians take their old parents in their arms; the women load their children on their backs; the nation finally sets out, carrying with it its most precious possessions. It abandons for ever the soil on which, for a thousand years perhaps, its fathers have lived, to go establish itself in a wilderness where the whites will not leave them ten years in peace. Do you note the results of a high civilization ? The Spaniards, like real brutes, throw their dogs on the Indians as if on ferocious beasts. They kill, burn, massacre, pillage the new world like a town taken by assault, without pity as without discernment. But one can't destroy everything; fury has its end. The remainder of the Indian populations ends by mingling with the conquerors, taking their customs, their religion; in several provinces they are to-day reigning over their former conquerors. The Americans of the United States, more humane, more moderate, more respectful of right and legality, never bloody, are more profoundly destructive; and it is impossible to doubt that before a hundred years [have passed] there will no longer be in North America, not just a single nation, but a single man belonging to the most remarkable of the Indian races....

'But I don't remember at all where I was in my story. We were talking, I think, about the Chactas. The Chactas were a powerful na- tion living on the frontiers of the States of Alabama and Georgia. After long negotiations they finally, this year, succeeded in persuading them to leave their country and emigrate to the right bank of the Mis- sissip[p]i. Six to seven thousand Indians have already crossed the great river; those arriving in Memphis came there with the object of fol- lowing their compatriots. The agent of the American government, who was accompanying them and was responsible for paying their passage, when he learned that a steamboat had just arrived, ran to the bank. The price that he offered for carrying the Indians sixty leagues further down # was the final touch that made up the captain's unsettled mind; the signal for all aboard was given. The prow was turned south, and we gaily mounted the ladder down which sadly came the poor passengers who, instead of going to Louisville, saw them- selves obliged to await the thaw at Memphis. Thus goes the world.

'But we had not left yet: it was a question of embarking our exiled tribe, its horses and its dogs. Here began a scene which, in truth, had something lamentable about it. The Indians advanced mournfully to- ward the bank. First they had their horses go aboard; several of them, little accustomed to the forms of civilized life, took fright and plunged into the Mississip[p]i, from which they could be pulled out only with difficulty. Then came the men who, according to ordinary habits, car- ried only their arms; then the women carrying their children attached to their backs or wrapped in the blankets they wore; they were, be- sides, burdened down with loads containing their whole wealth. Fi- nally the old people were led on. Among them was a woman 110 years old. I have never seen a more appalling shape. She was naked save for a covering which left visible, at a thousand places, the most emaciated figure imaginable. She was escorted by two or three generations of grandchildren. To leave one's country at that age to seek one's fortune in a foreign land, what misery! Among the old people there was a young girl who had broken her arm a week before; for want of care the arm had been frozen below the fracture. Yet she had to follow the common journey. When everything was on board the dogs ap- proached the bank; but they refused to enter the vessel and began howling frightfully. Their masters had to bring them on by force.

'In the whole scene there was an air of ruin and destruction, some- thing which betrayed a final and irrevocable adieu; one couldn't watch without feeling one's heart wrung. The Indians were tranquil, but sombre and taciturn. There was one who could speak English and of whom I asked why the Chactas were leaving their country.ÄTo be free, he answered,ÄI could never get any other reason out of him. We will set them down to-morrow in the solitudes of Arkansas.#One must confess that it is a singular fate that brought us to Memphis to watch the expulsion, one can say the dissolution, of one of the most cele- brated and ancient American peoples.

Beaumont counted between fifty and sixty Indians all being carried on the opendeck. His impression was that the old squaw was even more aged than Tocqueville said: The old are spared no more than the others. I have just seen on the boat deck an aged woman more than 120 years old. She is almost naked and carries on her only a miserable woollen covering scarcely protecting her shoulders from the cohl. She seemed to me the perfect image of old age (retaste) and decrepitude. This unhappy woman is obviously at death s door, and she leaves the land where she has dwelt for 120 years to go into another country to begin a new life..

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