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magic finds no heart to dissolve the spell, and
remains a wanderer and an Ishmaelite to the hour
of his death. ^

There is a chord, in the breasts of most men,
prompt to answer loudly or faintly, as the case may

1 Golden, after describing the Indian wars of 1699, 1700, concludes in
the following words : —

" I shall finish this Part by observing that notwithstanding the French
Commissioners took all the Pains possible to carry Home the French
that were Prisoners with tlie Five Nations, and they had full Liberty
from the Indians, few of them could be persuaded to return. It may be
thought that thi^ was occasioned from the Hardships they had endured in
their own Country, under a tyrannical Government and a barren Soil.
But this certainly was not the Reason, for the English had as much
Difiiculty to persuade the People that had been taken Prisoners by the
French Indians to leave the Indian Manner of living, though no People
enjoy more Liberty, and live in greater Plenty than the common Inhabi-
tants of New York do. No Arguments, no Intreaties, nor Tears of their
Friends and Relations, could persuade many of them to leave their new
Indian Friends and Acquaintance. Several of them that were by the
Caressings of their Relations persuaded to come Home, in a little Time
grew tired of our Manner of living, and ran away to the Indians, and
ended their Days with them. On the other Hand, Indian Children have
been carefully educated among the English, clothed and taught ; yet, I
think, there is not one Instance that any of these, after they had Liberty
to go among their own People, and were come to Age, would remain
with the English, but returned to their own Nations, and became as fond
of the Indian Manner of Life as those that knew nothing of a civilized
Manner of living. What I now tell of Christian Prisoners among Indians
relates not only to what happened at the Conclusion of this War, but has
been found true on many other Occasions." — Golden, 203.

1764, Nov.] THE FOREST LIFE. 239

be, to such rude appeals. But there is influence
of another sort, strongest with minds of the finest
texture, yet sometimes holding a controlling power
over those who neither acknowledge nor suspect
its workings. There are few so imbruted by vice,
so perverted by art and luxury, as to dwell in the
closest presence of Nature, deaf to her voice of
melody and power, untouched by the ennobling
influences which mould and penetrate the heart
that has not hardened itself against them. Into
the spirit of such an one the mountain wind
breathes its own freshness, and the midsummer
tempest, as it rends the forest, pours its own fierce
energy. His thoughts flow with the placid stream
of the broad, deep river, or dance in light with the
sparkling current of the mountain brook. No
passing mood or fancy of his mind but has its
image and its echo in the wild world around him.
There is softness in the mellow air, the warm sun-
shine, and the budding leaves of spring; and in
the forest flower, which, more delicate than the
pampered ofl'spring of gardens, lifts its tender head
through the refuse and decay of the wilderness.
But it is the grand and heroic in the hearts of men
which finds its worthiest symbol and noblest inspi-
ration amid these desert realms, — in the mountain,
rearing its savage head through clouds and sleet,
or basking its majestic strength in the radiance of
the sinking sun ; in the interminable forest, the
thunder booming over its lonely waste, the whirl-
wind tearing through its inmost depths, or the sun
at length setting in gorgeous majesty beyond its


waves of verdure. To the sick, the wearied, or
the sated spirit, nature opens a theatre of boundless
life, and holds forth a cup brimming with redundant
pleasure. In the other joys of existence, fear is
balanced against hope, and satiety against delight ;
but here one may fearlessly drink, gaining, with
every draught, new vigor and a heightened zest,
and finding no dregs of bitterness at the bottom.

Having accomplished its work, the army left
the Muskingum, and, retracing its former course,
arrived at Fort Pitt on the twenty-eighth of No-
vember. The recovered captives were sent to their
respective homes in Pennsylvania or Virginia ; and
the provincial troops disbanded, not without warm
praises for the hardihood and steadiness with which
they had met the difficulties of the campaign. The
happy issue of the expedition spread joy through-
out the country. At the next session of the Penn-
sylvania Assembly, one of its first acts was to pass
a vote of thanks to Colonel Bouquet, expressing in
earnest terms its sense of his services and per-
sonal merits, and conveying its acknowledgments
for the regard which he had constantly shown to
the civil rights of the inhabitants.^ The Assembly
of Virginia passed a similar vote ; and both houses
concurred in recommending Bouquet to the King
for promotion.

Nevertheless, his position was far from being an
easy or a pleasant one. It may be remembered
that the desertion of his newly levied soldiers had
forced him to ask Colonel Lewis to raise for him

1 See Appendix, F.


one or two companies of Virginian volunteers.
Virginia, which had profited by the campaign,
though contributing nothing to it, refused to pay
these troops ; and its agents tried to throw the
burden upon Bouquet in person. The Assembly
of Pennsylvania, with a justice and a generosity
which went far to redeem the past, came to his
relief and assumed the debt, though not till he
had suffered the most serious annoyance. Certain
recent military regulations contributed at the same
time to increase his vexation and his difficulties.
He had asked in vain, the year before, to be re-
lieved from his command. He now asked again,
and the request was granted ; on which he wrote to
Gage : "The disgust I have conceived from the ill-
nature and ingratitude of those individuals (the
Virginian officials) makes me accept with great sat-
isfaction your obliging offer to discharge me of this
department, in which I never desire to serve again,
nor, indeed, to be commanding officer in any other,
since the new regulations you were pleased to com-
municate to me ; being sensible of my inability to
carry on the service upon the terms prescribed." ^

He was preparing to return to Europe, when he
received the announcement of his promotion to the
rank of Brigadier General. He was taken com-
pletely by surprise ; for he had supposed that the
rigid prescriptions of the service had closed the
path of advancement against him, as a foreigner.
" I had, to-day," he wrote to Gage, " the honor of
your Excellency's letter of the fifteenth instant.

. 1 MS. Letter — Souguei to Gage, 4 March, 1765.

VOL. II. 16


The unexpected honor, which his Majesty has
condescended to confer upon me, fills my heart with
the utmost gratitude. Permit me, sir, to express my
sincere acknowledgments of my great obligation
to you. . . . The flattering prospect of preferment,
open to the other foreign officers by the removal
of that dreadful barrier, gives me the highest satis-
faction, being convinced that his Majesty has no
subjects more devoted to his service." ^

Among the letters of congratulation which he
received from officers serving under him is the
following, from Captain George Etherington, of
the first battalion of the E-oyal American regiment,
who commanded at Michillimackinac when it was
captured : —

" Lancaster, Pa., 19 April, 1765.

Though I almost despair of this reaching you
before you sail for Europe, yet I cannot deny myself
the pleasure of giving you joy on your promotion,
and can with truth tell you that it gives great joy
to all the gentlemen of the battalion, for two rea-
sons : first, on your account ; and, secondly, on our
own, as by that means we may hope for the pleas-
ure of continuing under your command.

" You can hardly imagine how this place rings
W'ith the news of your promotion, for the towns-
men and boors (^.e., German farmers) stop us in
the streets to ask if it is true tha.t the King has
made Colonel Bouquet a general ; and, when they
are told it is true, they march off with great joy ;

1 MS. Letter — Bouquet to Gage, 17 April, 1765.

1765.1 HIS DEATH. 2J:3

SO you see the old proverb wrong for ouce, which
says, he that prospers is envied; for sure I am
that all the people here are more pleased with the
news of your promotion than they would be if the
government would take off the stamp duty. . . .

"Geo. Etheri]sgton.
*• Brigadier General, Henry Bouquet."

" And," concludes Dr. William Smith, the chron-
icler of the campaign, '' as he is rendered as dear
by his private virtues to those who have the honor
of his more intimate acquaintance, as he is by his
military services to the public, it is hoped he may
long continue among us, where his experienced
abilities will enable him, and his love of the En^:-
lish constitution entitle him, to fill any future trust
to which his Majesty may be pleased to call him."
This hope was not destined to fulfilment. Bouquet
was assigned to the command of the southern mil-
itary department; and, within three years after his
return from the Muskingum, he was attacked with
a fever at Pensacola, which closed the career of a
gallant soldier and a generous man.

The Dela wares and Shawanoes, mindful of their
engagement and of the hostages which they had
given to keep it, sent their deputies, within the
appointed time, to Sir William Johnson, who con-
cluded a treaty with them ; stipulating, among the
other terms, that they should grant free passage
through their country to English troops and trav-
ellers ; that they should make full restitution for
the goods taken from the traders at the breaking

244 BOUQUET m the Indian country. [itgs.

out of the war ; and that they should aid their tri-
umphant enemies in the difficult task which yet
remained to be accomplished, — that of taking pos-
session of the Illinois, and occupying its posts and
settlements with British troops.^

1 MS. Johnson Papers.

Scale of .\ riles



We turn to a region of which, as yet, we have
caught but transient glimpses ; a region which to
our forefathers seemed remote and strange, as to
us the mountain strongholds of the Apaches, or the
wastes of farthest Oregon. The country of the Illi-
nois was chiefly embraced within the boundaries
of the state which now retains the name. Thither-
ward, from the east, the west, and the north, three
mighty rivers rolled their tributary waters ; while
countless smaller streams — small only in compar-
ison — traversed the land with a watery network,
impregnating the warm soil with exuberant fecun-
dity. From the eastward, the Ohio — La Belle
Hiviere — pursued its windings for more than a
thousand miles. The Mississippi descended from
the distant north ; while from its fountains in the
west, three thousand miles away, the Missouri
poured its torrent towards the same common cen-
tre. Born among mountains, trackless even now,
except by the adventurous footstep of the trapper, —
nurtured amid the howling of beasts and the war-

246 THE ILLINOIS. [1764.

cries of savages, never silent in that wilderness, —
it holds its angry course through sun-scorched
deserts, among towers and palaces, the architecture
of no human hand, among lodges of barbarian
hordes, and herds of bison blackening the prairie
to the horizon. Fierce, reckless, headstrong, ex-
ulting in its tumultuous force, it plays a thousand
freaks of wanton power ; bearing away forests
from its shores, and planting them, with roots up-
permost, in its quicksands; sweeping off islands,
and rebuilding them ; frothing and raging in foam
and whirlpool, and, again, gliding with dwindled
current along its sandy channel. At length, dark
with uncurbed fury, it pours its muddy tide into
the reluctant Mississippi. That majestic river,
drawing life from the pure fountains of the north,
wandering among emerald prairies and wood-
crowned bluffs, loses all its earlier charm with
this unhallowed union. At first, it shrinks as
with repugnance ; and along the same channel
the two streams flow side by side, with unmingled
waters. But the disturbing power prevails at
length ; and the united torrent bears onward in its
might, boiling up from the bottom, whirling in
many a vortex, flooding its shores with a malign
deluge fraught wdth pestilence and fever, and
burying forests in its depths, to insnare the heed-
less voyager. Mightiest among rivers, it is the.
connecting link of adverse climates and contrasted
races ; and, while at its northern source the fur-
clad Indian shivers in the cold, where it mingles
with the ocean, the growth of the tropics springs


along its banks, and the panting negro cools his
limbs in its refreshing waters.

To these great rivers and their tributary streams
the country of the Illinois owed its wealth, its
grassy prairies, and the stately woods that flour-
ished on its deep, rich soil. This prolific land
teemed with life. It was a hunter's paradise.
Deer grazed on its meadows. The elk trooped in
herds, like squadrons of cavalry. In the still
morning, one might hear the clatter of their ant-
lers for half a mile over the dewy prairie. Count-
less bison roamed the plains, filing in grave
procession to drink at the rivers, plunging and
snorting among the rapids and quicksands, rolling
their huge bulk on the grass, rushing upon each
other in hot encounter, like champions under shield.
The wildcat glared from the thicket ; the racoon
thrust his furry countenance from the hollow tree,
and the opossum swung, head downwards, from the
overhanging bough.

With the opening spring, when the forests are
budding into leaf, and the prairies gemmed with
flowers ; when a warm, faint haze rests upon the
landscape, — then heart and senses are inthralled
with luxurious beauty. The shrubs and wild fruit-
trees, flushed with pale red blossoms, and the small
clustering flowers of grape-vines, which choke the
gigantic trees with Laocoon writhings, fill the
forest with their rich perfume. A few days later,
and a cloud of verdure overshadows the land ; while
birds innumerable sing beneath its canopy, and
brighten its shades with their glancing hues.

248 THE ILLINOIS. [1764.

Yet this western paradise is not free from the
primal curse. The beneficent sun, which kindles
into life so many forms of loveliness and beauty,
fails not to engender venom and death from the
rank slime of pestilential swamp and marsh. In
some stagnant pool, buried in the jungle-like
depths of the forest, where the hot and lifeless
water reeks with exhalations, the water-snake
basks by the margin, or winds his checkered
length of loathsome beauty across the sleepy sur-
face. From beneath the rotten carcass of some
fallen tree, the moccason thrusts out his broad flat
head, ready to dart on the intruder. On the dry,
sun-scorched prairie, the rattlesnake, a more gen-
erous enemy, reposes in his spiral coil. He scorns
to shun the eye of day, as if conscious of the
honor accorded to his name by the warlike race,
who, jointly with him, claim lordship over the
land.^ But some intrusive footstep awakes him

1 The superstitious veneration wliich the Indians entertain for the
rattlesnake has been before alluded to. The Cherokees christened him
by a name which, being interpreted, signifies the bright old inhabitants, a
title of affectionate admiration of which his less partial acquaintance
would hardly judge him worthy.

" Between the heads of the northern branch of the Lower Cheerake
River, and the heads of that of Tuckaschchee, winding round in a long
course by the late Fort Loudon, and afterwards into the Mississippi, there
is, both in the nature and circumstances, a great phenomenon. Between
two high mountains, nearly covered with old mossy rocks, lofty cedars
and pines, in the valleys of which the beams of the sun reflect a powerful
heat, there are, as the natives affirm, some bright old inhabitants, or
rattlesnakes, of a more enormous size than is mentioned in history.
They are so large and unwieldy, that they take a circle almost as wide
as their length, to crawl round in their shortest orbit ; but bountiful
nature compensates the heavy motion of their bodies ; for, as they say,
no living creature moves within the reach of their sight, but they can
draw it to them ; which is agreeable to what we observe through the


from his slumbers. His neck is arched ; the white
fangs gleam in his distended jaws ; his small eyes
dart rays of unutterable fierceness ; and his rattles,
invisible with their quick vibration, ring the sharp
warning which no man will dare to contemn.

The land thus prodigal of good and evil, so
remote from the sea, so primitive in its aspect,
might well be deemed an undiscovered region,
ignorant of European arts ; yet it may boast a
colonization as old as that of many a spot to which
are accorded the scanty honors of an American
antiquity. The earliest settlement of Pennsylvania
was made in 1G81 ; the first occupation of the
Illinois took place in the previous year. La Salle
may be called the father of the colony. That re-
markable man entered the country with a handful
of followers, bent on his grand scheme of Missis-
sippi discovery. A legion of enemies rose in his
path ; but neither delay, disappointment, sickness,
famine, open force, nor secret conspiracy, could
bend his soul of iron. Disasters accumulated
upon him. He flung them ofl", and still pressed
forward to his object. His victorious energy bore
all before it ; but the success on which he had
staked his life served only to entail fresh calamity,
and an untimely death ; and his best reward is,
that his name stands forth in history an imperish-
able monument of heroic constancy. When on his

whole system of animated beings. Nature endues them with proper
capacities to sustain Hfe : as they cannot support themselves by their
speed or cunning, to spring from an ambuscade, it is needful they should
have the bewitching craft of their eyes and forked tongues." — Adair,

250 ' THE ILLINOIS. [1764.

way to the Mississippi, in the year 1680, La Salle
built a fort in the country of the Illinois ; and, on
his return from the mouth of the great river, some
of his followers remained, and established them-
selves near the spot. Heroes of another stamp
took up the work which the daring Norman had
begun. Jesuit missionaries, among the best and
purest of their order, burning with zeal for the
salvation of souls, and the gaining of an immortal
crown, here toiled and suffered, with a self-sacrific-
insf devotion which extorts a tribute of admiration
even from sectarian bigotry. While the colder
apostles of Protestantism labored upon the out-
skirts of heathendom, these champions of the
cross, the forlorn hope of the army of Rome,
pierced to the heart of its dark and dreary do-
main, confronting death at every step, and well
repaid for all, could they but sprinkle a few drops
of water on the forehead of a dying child, or hang
a gilded crucifix round the neck of some warrior,
pleased with the glittering trinket. With the
beginning of the eighteenth century, the black
robe of the Jesuit was known in every village of
the Illinois. Defying the wiles of Satan and the
malice of his emissaries, the Indian sorcerers ;
exposed to the rage of the elements, and every
casualty of forest life, they followed their wander-
ing proselytes to war and to the chase ; now wad-
ing' through morasses, now dragging canoes over
rapids and sand-bars ; now scorched with heat on
the sweltering prairie, and now shivering house-
less in the blasts of January. At Kaskaskia and


Cahokia they established missions, and built frail
churches from the bark of trees, fit emblems of
their own transient and futile labors. Morning and
evening, the savage worshippers sang praises to the
Virgin, and knelt in supplication before the shrine
of St. Joseph.^

Soldiers and fur-traders followed where these
pioneers of the church had led the way. Forts
were built here and there throughout the country,
and the cabins of settlers clustered about the mis-
sion-houses. The new colonists, emigrants from
Canada or disbanded soldiers of French regiments,
bore a close resemblance to the settlers of Detroit,
or the primitive people of Acadia ; whose simple
life poetry has chosen as an appropriate theme, but
w^ho, nevertheless, are best contemplated from a
distance. The Creole of the Illinois, contented,
light-hearted, and thriftless, by no means fulfilled
the injunction to increase and multiply ; and the
colony languished in spite of the fertile soil. The
people labored long enough to gain a bare subsist-
ence for each passing day, and spent the rest of
their time in dancing and merry-making, smoking,
gossiping, and hunting. Their native gayety was
irrepressible, and they found means to stimulate it
with wine made from the fruit of the wild grape-
vines. Thus they passed their days, at peace with
themselves, hand and glove with their Indian neigh-
bors, and ignorant of all the world beside. Money
was scarcely known among them. Skins and furs

1 For an account of Jesuit labors in the Illinois, see the letters of
Father Marest, in Lett. Edif. IV.

252 THE ILLINOIS. [1764.

were the prevailing currency, and in every village
a great portion of the land was held in common.
The military commandant, whose station was at
Fort Chartres, on the Mississippi, ruled the colony,
with a sway absolute as that of the Pacha of
Egypt, and judged civil and criminal cases without
right of appeal. Yet his power was exercised in
a patriarchal spirit, and he usually commanded the
respect and confidence of the people. Many years
later, when, after the War of the Revolution, the
Illinois came under the jurisdiction of the United
States, the perplexed inhabitants, totally at a loss
to understand the complicated machinery of re-
publicanism, begged to be delivered from the
intolerable burden of self-government, and to be
once more subjected to a military commandant.^

The Creole is as unchanging in his nature and
habits as the Indian himself. Even at this day,
one may see, along the banks of the Mississippi,
the same low-browed cottages, with their broad
eaves and picturesque verandas, which, a century
ago, were clustered around the mission-house at
Kaskaskia ; and, entering, one finds the inmate
the same lively, story-telling, and pipe-smoking
being that his ancestor was before him. Yet, with
all his genial traits, the rough world deals hardly

1 The principal authorities for the above account of the Illinois colony
are Hutchins, Topographical Description, 37. Volney, View of the United
States, 370. Pitman, Present State of the European Settlements on the Missis-
sippi, passim. Law, Address before the Historical Society of Vincennes, 14.
Brown, Hist. Illinois, 208. Journal of Captain Harry Gordon, in Appendix
to Pownall's Topographical Description. Nicollet, Report on the Hydrograph-
ical Basin of the Mississippi, 75.


with him. He lives a mere drone in the busy hive
of an American population. The living tide en-
croaches on his rest, as the muddy torrent of the
great river chafes away the farm and homestead
of his fathers. Yet he contrives to be happy,
though looking back regretfully to the better days
of old.

At the date of this history, the population of the
colony, exclusive of negroes, who, in that simple
community, were treated rather as humble friends
than as slaves, did not exceed two thousand souls,
distributed in several small settlements. There
were about eight}^ houses at Kaskaskia, forty or
fifty at Cahokia, a few at Vincennes and Fort
Chartres, and a few more scattered in small clus-
ters upon the various streams. The agricultural
portion of the colonists were, as we have described
them, marked with many weaknesses, and many
amiable virtues ; but their morals w^ere not im-
proved by a large admixture of fur-traders, —
reckless, harebrained adventurers, who, happily for
the peace of their relatives, were absent on their
wandering vocation during the greater part of the

1 Lieutenant Alexander Fraser visited the Illinois in 1765, as we shall

Online LibraryFrancis ParkmanThe conspiracy of Pontiac : and the Indian war after the conquest of Canada (Volume 2) → online text (page 18 of 30)