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jumped as I set eyes on these familiar objects, and for the first time in four months, I felt as if I had found substantial evidence of civilization; the impression of the refinement of the mission, and the peculiarly domestic comforts which the ladies attached to the establishment spread around them, were as nothing compared with the yards and masts of these coursers of the ocean. The river at Fort Vancouver is from 1,600, to 1,700 yards wide; the fort, which is the principal establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company in Oregon, is on the north bank of the Columbia, 80 miles distance, in a direct line, from the sea. It stands a considerable distance back from the shore, and is surrounded by a large number of buildings, amongst which is a schoolhouse. On the bank of the river, 600 yards down, is a village somewhat larger in extent, containing an hospital. Two miles farther down the river are the dairy and piggery, containing numerous herds of cattle, hogs, sheep, &c.; and about three miles above the forts are grist and saw-mills, and sheds for curing salmon. Immediately behind it is a garden and an orchard filled with peach, apple, fig, orange, lemon, and other fruit trees,—and containing also grapes, strawberries, ornamental plants and flowers. Behind this the cultivated farm, with its numerous barns and other necessary buildings,-spread off towards the south. The land appropriated here for the purposes of farming, is from 3000 to 4000 acres, and is fenced into beautiful fields, a great portion of which has already been appropriated to cultivation, and is found to produce the grains and vegetables of the States in remarkable profusion. On my arrival, I was received with great kindness by Dr. MʻLaughlin, the chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company; and Mr. Douglass, his second in command. The modus operandi of this wonderful corporation is remarkable for the perfect accuracy of its system. A code of established rules, embracing within its scope the chief factor and the meanest dependent, is the inflexible rule which governs all. Every man has his alloted department to fill, and a system of farsighted policy is brought to bear upon the management of every department. A regular price is set upon everything. Their goods
are all of the most superior kind, and it is no less a rule to sell them at reasonable rates than it is to have them good.'
The documents in the Colonial Office, and at the War Office, and Admiralty, amply sustain these facts. Colonel Crofton’s Report is in the strongest degree favourable to the Hudson's Bay Company.
Indeed, but for the exercise of strict discipline, the Company would not only have anarchy among their own people, but would be subject to great annoyance from their neighbours, who would endeavour to sow discontent and rebellion among their people. In 1836, a person styling himself General Dickson, of the Indian Liberating Army,' departed from Washington, and attended by several followers, made an effort to seduce the servants of the Company, with the pretended object of uniting all the Indians in one nation, of which Dickson was to be the chief, under the title of “Montezuma the Second.' He was supplied with money by some Americans, in the expectation that he would damage the Hudson's Bay Company, and proceeded through the American territories to the region west of Lake Superior, the General, his Brigadier, Aide-de-Camps, &c., dressed in grand uniforms. Winter set in; and Dickson, with his toes frozen off, and in a wretched plight, attended by a few deluded followers, at length reached the Red River settlement, where the Hudson's Bay Company prevented them from starving, and, finally, took several into their employ as clerks and servants.
The manner in which the American fur hunters destroy the Indians, is thus described by an American clergyman :
On the 29th, removed our encampment, and travelled five hours along this valley, to the place where, two years before, two fur companies held their rendezvous. Pierre's Hole is an extensive level country, of rich soil, and well watered with branches of Lewis River; the climate is milder than any part we have gone through on this side of the mountains. The valley is well covered with grass, but like most other places, is deficient in woodland, having only a scanty supply of cotton-wood and willows scattered along the streams. The valley extends around to the north-west as far as the eye can reach. We expected to have found buffaloes
in this valley, but saw none. As parties of Blackfeet warriors often range this way, it was probable that they had lately been here and frightened them away. As we were on our way from our last encampinent, I was shown the place where the men of the fur companies, at the time of their rendezvous two years before, had a battle with the Blackfeet Indians. Of the Blackfeet party, there were about sixty men, and more than the same number of women and children; of the white men in the valley there were some few hundreds who could be called into action. From the information given me, it appeared that these Indians were on their way through this valley, and unexpectedly met about forty hunters and trappers going out from rendezvous to the southwest on their fall and winter hunt. The Indians manifested an unwillingness to fight, and presented them tokens of peace, but they were not reciprocated. The Indians who came forward to stipulate terms of peace, were fired upon and killed. When the Indians saw their danger, they fled to the cotton-wood trees and willows which were scattered along the stream of the water, and, taking advantage of some fallen trees, constructed as good defences as time and circumstances would permit. They were poorly provided with guns, and still more poorly with ammunition. The trappers keeping out of reach of their arrows, and being well armed with the best rifles, rendered the contest unequal; and it was made still more unequal, when, by an express sent to rendezvous, they were reinforced by veterans in mountain life. The hunters, by keeping at a safe distance, in the course of a few hours killed several of the Indians, and almost all their horses, which they had no means of protecting, while they themselves suffered but small loss. The numbers killed on both sides have been differently stated ; but considering the numbers engaged, and the length of time the skirmishing continued, it must have been a bloody battle, and not much to the honour of civilized Americans. The excuse made for forcing the Blackfeet into battle is, that if they had come upon a small party of trappers, they would have butchered them and seized upon the plunder. If heathen Blackfeet would have done so, is this an apology for civilized white
men to render evil for evil ? What a noble opportunity this was for American citizens to have set an example of humanity !
'When the night drew near, the hunters retired to their rendezvous, and the Indians made their escape.'—(Journey beyond the Rocky Mountains, by the Rev. S. Parker. Edin. Ed., 1841. P. 23.)
The same American authority adverts in another part of his Journal (pp. 19--21), to the profligacy of the fur hunters.' He says, the American Fur Company have between two and three hundred men constantly employed, in and about the mountains, in trading, hunting, and trapping. These all assemble at a rendezvous, bring in their furs, and take new supplies for the oming year of clothing, ammunition, and goods for trade with the Indians. But few of them ever return to their country and friends. Most of them are constantly in debt, and are unwilling to return without a fortune; and year after year passes away while they are hoping for better success. The conduct and proceedings of the men engaged in the operations of this American Company-offers a marked contrast to that of the British Fur Company. The Rev. S. Parker speaking of these Americans says, at p. 21 :— A few days after our arrival at the place of rendezvous, and when all the mountain-men had assembled, another day of indulgence was granted to them, in which all restraint was laid aside. These days are the climax of the hunter's happiness. I will relate an occurrence which took place near evening, as a specimen of mountain life. A hunter, who goes technically by the name of the Great Bully of the Mountains, mounted his horse with a loaded rifle, and challenged any Frenchman, American, Spaniard, or Dutchman, to fight him in single combat. Kit Carson, an American, told him, if he wished to die, he would accept the challenge. Shunar defied him; Carson mounted his horse, and with a loaded pistol rushed into close contact, and both almost at the same instant fired. Carson's ball entered Shunar's hand, came out at the wrist, and passed through the arm above the elbow. Shunar's ball passed over the head of Carson, and while he went for another pistol, Shunar begged that his life might be spared. Such scenes, sometimes from passion
and sometimes for amusement, make the pastime of their wild and wandering life. They appear to have sought for a place where, as they would say, human nature is not oppressed by the tyranny of religion, and pleasure is not awed by the frown of virtue.
The fruits are visible in all the varied forms to which human nature, without the restraint of civil government and cultivated and polished society, may be supposed to yield. In the absence of all those motives which they would feel in moral and religious society-refinement, pride, a sense of the worth of character, and even conscience—they give way to unrestrained dissoluteness. Their toils and privations are so great, that they are not disposed to take upon themselves the labour of climbing up to the temple of science. And yet they are proficients in one study, namely, profuseness of language in their oaths and blasphemy. They disdain the commonplace phrases which prevail among the impious vulgar in civilized countries, and have many set expletives, which they appear to have manufactured among themselves, and which ! in their imprecations, they bring into almost every sentence and on all occasions. By varying the tones of their voices, they make them expressive of joy, hope, grief, and anger. In their broils among themselves, which do not happen every day, they would not be ungenerous. They would see 'fair play,' and would spare the last eye;' and would not tolerate murder, unless drunkenness or great provocation could be pleaded in extenuation of guilt.
• Their demoralizing influence with the Indians has been lamentable, and they have imposed upon them in all the ways that sinful propensities dictate. It is said they have sold them packs of cards at high prices, calling them the Bible; and have told them, if they should refuse to give white men wives, God would be angry with them, and punish them eternally: and on almost any occasion when their wishes have been resisted, they have threatened them with the wrath of God.'
The British rivals in the fur trade are now the American and the Russian Fur Companies, and it is our interest to do nothing to weaken the only association capable of preserving to England this valuable branch of traffic.