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most splendid part of the book ; but it is far too long to be transcribed.
The succession of falls, including what are called rapids, amounts to more than twenty, occupying about fifteen miles (by a strange blunder misprinted “two and three quarter miles') of the course of the river. Within this length it has a descent of three hundred and fifty-two feet. Of course the greater number of the falls and rapids are inconsiderable, though some of these minor ones would make no mean figure if they were in some situations; but there is one fall of nineteen feet, one of near fifty, and one of eighty-seven. In approaching this tremendous precipitation the river descends thirteen feet in two hundred yards, and is coinpressed by its channel of rock, to the breadth of two hundred and eighty yards. About one third of this breadth falls in a smooth even sheet;'
• The remaining part of the river precipitates itself with a more rapid current, but being received as it falls by the irregular and somewhat projecting rocks below, forms a splendid prospect of perfectly white foam, two hundred yards in length. This spray is dissipated into a thousand shapes, sometimes flying up in columns of fifteen or twenty feet, which are then oppressed by larger masses of the white foam, on all which the sun impresses the brightest colours of the rainbow. As it rises from the fall it beats with fury against a ledge of rocks which extend across the river at one hundred and fifty yards from the precipice.'
The cataract next in magnitude, is thus described : • The whole Missouri is suddenly stopped by one shelving rock, which, without a single niche, and with an edge as straight and regular as if formed by art, stretches itself from one side of the river to the other, for at least a quarter of a mile. Over this it precipitates itself in an even uninterrupted sheet to the perpendicular depth of fifty feet, whence dashing against the rocky bottom it rushes rapidly down, leaving behind it a spray of the purest foam across the river. The scene which it presented was indeed singularly beautiful, since without any of the wild irregular sublimity of the lower falls, it combined all the elegances which the fancy of a painter would select to form a beautiful waterfall.?
Indeed, almost every imaginable variety is displayed in this magnificent series of phenomena; and the whole scene might appear as if intended as the one place on earth, where the most versatile, and by far the most formidable, of all the elements, should exhibit the greatest number of beautiful and tremendous forms and agencies in the shortest time and space; -and the selected theatre is the central solitude of a boundless wilderness !-Some accessory circumstances are mentioned, not unaccordant to its character. In a grove on a small island just below one of the cataracts, and shrouded in its mists, is an eagle's nest. At no great distance there rises
a spring which should have been described more precisely, because the general terms of description would imply a magnitude probably not to be paralleled in the whole world.-One day, the signs of an approaching heavy shower, induced Captain Clarke, with the French interpreter, and his wife with her child, to take shelter under some shelving rocks in a perfectly dry ravine, not so much from caring about rain, as from the apprehension of being carried into the river by the furious blasts of wind which are apt to accompany the showers. The rain descended, moderately at first, but presently in such a deluge as to produce a dreadful torrent in the ravine, which carried the mud, rocks, and every thing, away with it.
Captain Clarke fortunately saw it a moment before it reached hem, and springing up with his gun and shotpouch in his left hand, with his right clambered up the steep bluff, pushing on the Indian woman with her child in her arms; her husband too had seized her hand, and was pulling her up the hill; but he was so terrified at the danger that, but for Captain Clarke, himself and his wife and child would have been lost. So instantaneous was the rise of the water, that before Captain Clarke had reached his
and begun to ascend the bank, the water was up to his waist, and he could scarce get up faster than it rose, till it reached the height of fifteen feet with a furious current, which, had they waited a moment longer, would have swept them into the river just above the great Falls, down which they must inevitably have been precipitated.
The formidable impression of these cataracts would be aggravated by the frequent spectacle of buffaloes carried down, sometimes ten or a dozen within a few minutes. They “go in large herds to water about the falls, and as all the passages to the river near that place are narrow and steep, the foremost are pressed into the river by the impatience of those behind.' Their mangled bodies and dissevered limbs, when cast on the bank, become food for the multitude of bears, wolves, and birds of prey, that frequent this vicinity. The number of buffaloes seen on the adjacent plains, was most prodigious; one of our Captains computed those he saw at one view at ten thousand.
But an accessory to the scene more striking than all the rest, was a mysterious sound heard from the mountains, to the north west. It resembled the report of artillery discharged at the distance of a few miles. It occurred at any time, indifferently, of the day or night, and was sometimes a single explosion, and sometimes five or six in quick succession. It is a permanent circumstance, for the party had long before been informed by the Indians, that they would have such a
sound when at the falls, but deemed the tale an idle or superstitious fable. It is loud and very imposing. No attempt to account for it is hazarded. The only reasonable conjecture is, that among those ' Black Mountains, as they are here denominated, there must be a volcano, habitually in action, It will be the luxury of some future adventurers, to follow this sound directly to the locality of its cause.
But this region, so much surpassing the pictures of romance and poetry, was to the party a place of severe hard labour; for these magnificent cataracts caused them nearly twenty miles of land carriage for their boats, stores, and baggage, excepting what they lodged in a kind of vaults, or caches, under ground. Including the preparation canoes, it was nearly a month's toil, during more than half of which time a considerable proportion of them were entirely losing their labour in fitting out a large iron frame of a boat with a covering of elk and buffaloe hides, which, for want of pitch, they could devise no
of making watertight.
They did not want, however, for little amusing stimulants, to throw some vivacity into their toils. They had on one day, for half an hour, a hail-storm, in which there fell lumps of ice of seven inches in circumference. But the most inspiriting of these stimulants was the frequent danger from brown bears, which day and night prowled about them, Several rencounters are mentioned, in one of which Captain Lewis, being surprised by the enemy when his rifle was not loaded, was furiously chased into the river, at a place where it was not deep at the edge, which he did not reach till the rampant devourer was within twenty feet of him, He betook himself to this element as affording some little more chance in the combat; but on facing round, when at waist-deep, to present the point of his espontoon, he was astonished to see his pursuer suddenly turn round and take to flight, a circumstance quite anomalous and unaccountable.- Who would not have expected, in a relation like this, the word Providence, or some synonymous term? What a contrast there is between the manner in which our adventurers relate their narrow and almost miraculous escapes, and that in which any parallel incidents are recounted by the Moravian Missionaries on the same continent !--the latter class of persons being, the while, quite as brave, with a different modification of the quality, as these intrepid explorers.
Resuming the voyage, the party soon advanced into what are denominated the Gates of the Rocky Mountains,' a cleft apparently forced and worn, during unknown ages, by the stream, which here has a channel to be matched by few
other streams : foron either hand the rocks rise perpendicularly to the height of twelve hundred feet; and so precisely from the very edges of the water, that for miles there is not a spot nor a ledge where a man could stand. The water is deep at the edges, and the current is strong. "Nothing,' says the describer, can be imagined more tremendous than
the frowning darkness of these rocks, which project over the river and menace us with destruction.'
They alınost immediately arrived at what they call the three forks of the river, and without having been able, by means of a detachment led by one of the Captains over land, to obtain any communication with the Snake Indians, whom they were anxious to find, in order to obtain information of the proper route across the mountains to the great River of the West. Here, about three thousand miles, measuring through its meanders, from its confluence with the Mississipi, the Missouri is doomed to lose its name, and the three streams conjoining to constitute it, are denominated Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin; and some stages further on there is a farcical and uncouth subdivision into Wisdom, Philosophy, and Philanthropy rivers. The canoes were vigorously worked, but with the most harassing labour, upward to the last navigable point of the stream which had been selected, and now the band were to find their way across the mountains. In order to this it was absolutely necessary to hunt out the Indians 3 and at length they discovered a camp of the tribe denominated Shoshonees, a division of the widely scattered and undefined nation called Snake Indians. The moody fickleness of these wild animals, and the state of excessive suspicion and apprehension in which they were kept by the deadly hostility of a stronger tribe of savages, required, in Captain Lewis, (who, accompanied with a very few men, a great way a-head of thé expedition, first explored their haunt,) a course of the nicest management to bring them to trust themselves to accompany him to meet the large party of white men which he assured them was approaching. It was not that they were in the least afraid of the white men ; on the contrary, they had manifested an excessive joy on ascertaining that be and his attendants were of that species ; but they were afraid lest they should be inveigled into a very different rencounter. complished the object, and immediately all was exultation and confidence. Sacajawea, the Indian woman of the expedition, was almost overwhelmed with affectionate emotion on meeting a young female friend, who had at the same time as herself, been carried away captive by the Minnetarees, and on suddenly recognising soon afterwards her brother in the chief of the Indian camp.
The description of the manners and condition of this tribe, is extended and interesting. As game is scarce in the country, and they have no better weapons for hunting than the bow and arrow, they seem in constant danger of perishing by hunger, notwithstanding the aid afforded them in the chace by their fine horses, which they ride with consummate skill and daring. It is quite deplorable to see the whole numerous band put into the most eager and tumultuous cominotion, by the intelligence of one of Captain Lewis's hunters having killed a deer, and falling upon the offal with more than the ravenousness of wolves. It is very striking at the game time, to observe the punctilious sense of propriety with which they abstained, while their numbers would have made them irresistible, from touching any better portion of the animal, which they regarded as belonging to the white hunter and his companions. There are several other facts concurring to prove a very unusual degree of integrity in these unfortunate people.
The conductors of the expedition had now very great cause to be most anxious about the passage to be sought through the mountains. All the geographical knowledge of the Shoshonees was put in requisition, and the results were in no small degree intimidating. An examination was deterinined to be instantly made of a river, which at no great distance was to be found flowing first to the north-west, and afterwards to the west, but was represented as totally unnavigable, in consequence of its rocks and violent rapidity. Under the guidance of an intelligent and friendly old man, Captain Clarke and a party followed its impetuous course among rocks anti mountains, till they approached within twenty miles of a mountain covered with eternal snow, through a most tremendous chasm of which the Indian informed them that the river passes away to the west. If that pass be, as the guide described it, (at the same time proposing to conduct the Captain thither,) a narrow gap, on each side of which arises perpen. dicularly a rock as high as the top of the mountain,' it must greatly surpass in gloomy grandeur even that already described under the denomination of the Gates, and must be one of the most striking localities on the globe. It is totally impossible, the Indian told them, to do more than look into that enormous ' gap.'
There was no resource but to cross the mountainous tract altogether by land. Having purchased, with considerable difficulty, about thirty horses of the Shoshonees, to carry their stores, excepting a portion which they committed to another concealment in the earth, they commenced this, the most formidable part of their adventure, at the end of Au