Page images
PDF
EPUB

geological structure, being composed of limestone of different ages, and of portions which mark the passage from one to the other, with crystals of calcareous spar in the cavities, and some other minerals of the same nature imbedded in the mass; but we see not from his description wherein it differs from the limestone of the Harz and numerous other strata of the same rock. An anomaly, however, of another kind, is pointed out by him in his statistical account of it; which is, that with a population of nearly five hundred, it has neither preacher, schoolmaster, attorney, nor physician, which we wish might be at least half true of all the towns in our country of the same size. The etymology given of this name is, Missi great, and Mackinaw turtle, the island being supposed to resemble a great turtle lying on the water.

The sault of St Marie interposes a barrier to the free navigation from lakes Huron and Michigan into lake Superior; barges and canoes partly loaded can ascend it, but the water never rises sufficiently to allow large vessels to pass. It was the site of another of the early garrisons of the French ; and it may well be remarked, as it is by Mr Schoolcraft, that they discorered a most extraordinary good judgment, as well as a most thorough knowledge of the geography of the country in all the selections they made of places as points of defence; there is scarce an instance, where it has been found expedient to change them. While the party was there, the Indians attempted to frighten them out of insisting upon the claim, which they were instructed to make to a tract of land sufficient for a garrison, in virtue of a former cession to the French, but in consequence of the very firm and decisive manner in which the attempt was received, they soon gave up, and ceded the land demanded.

We are next introduced into lake Superior, and it would be injustice to our author to describe this, the grandest event of the whole expedition, in any language but his own.

• The morning (June 18) was clear and pleasant, with a gentle breeze blowing up the river, which while it filled our sails and relieved the men at the oars, produced an exhilirating effect upon our spirits, by its refreshing coolness, and we approached the lake with a feeling of impatient delight. The most enchanting views were presented in every direction, and we fully realized the justice of the remark made by Carver, “ that the entrance into lake Superior affords one of the most pleasing prospects in the world.” This entrance was now in full view, presenting a scene of beauty and magnificence which is rarely surpassed, even amid the rugged scenery of the north.

The lake spread like a sea before us : toward the north we could discern across the bay the distant highlands, which border the Canadian shore of the lake, while on the south the mountain chain extending from the head of the river St Mary, westward, towered majestically into the air and presented a fine contrast to the boundless expanse of water at its base.'

But the traveller searches in vain along the borders of this stupendous lake for the picturesque scenery, which its fine entrance leads him to expect; long and lofty ridges of sand, or piles of shapeless rock, interchange with low sandy beaches from Iroquois point to Fond du lac. The few objects of note described by Mr Schoolcraft are interesting only in a geological view. A remarkable heap or bank of sand about three hundred feet high extends nine miles along the lake, which is divided into three distinct strata. The lowest, one hundred and fifty feet thick, is unmixed light yellow silicious sand; the middle, about eighty feet, is composed of the same substance, mixed with numerous pebbles of granite, hornblende, limestone, and quartz; and the upper like the lower with trunks of trees imbedded. It is the extent and height of this sand bank alone which inake it remarkable. The arrangement of the strata and the manner of their accumulation is doubtless this : the lower unmixed part is the original sandstone which forms the bank of this part of the lake in a state of disintegration, the second layer has washed out from the bottom of the lake at the time of some great overflow, and the upper has blown on from time to time and enveloped the trees which it found growing there. Following the shore along westward, we soon come to the pictured rocks, as they are called, which is a range of sandstone of about the same height as the ridge just described, broken into various fantastic forms by the action of the elements. To judge both from the sketch and the description which Mr Schoolcraft has given of these rocks, they must bear a most marked resemblance to the sandstone formation on the Elbe above Dresden, which is called Saxon Switzerland. By contrasting pictures of the two, the resemblance will appear; and first of the pictured rocks of lake Superior.- Surprising groups of overhanging precipices, towering walls, caverns, waterfalls, and prostrate ruins, which are here mingled in the most wonderful disorder, and burst upon the view in ever varying and pleasing succession'-are the objects selected by our author for his description of these rocks. Reichard's of Saxon Switzerland places before us, • Chasms and loose rocks in the form of figures the most grotesque, summits and points elevated almost beyond the reach of sight, abysses of prodigious depth, rivulets, torrents and cascades, which are either engulphed, or foaming, rush forward on their course, grottos and caverns of all sizes. And this in fact is the common appearance of sandstone rocks, when laid bare to the pelting of the storms. A little farther onward the granite shows itself above the sandstone in an abrupt rock rising out of the lake to the height of two hundred feet, which is united with the shore by strata of red and grey sandstone, under which it dips and rises on the contiguous coast in high, rough, and broken peaks. From this point westward, granite is frequently seen rising from beneath the sandstone.

From the Sault de St Marie, to the Ontanagon or Coppermine river is 330 miles, which it took our party ten days to travel in their canoes. Here they were directed to stop and ascertain the truth of the accounts which Henry and others had given about the copper mines on the banks of this river, and particularly to examine the mass which was estimated by him to weigh six tons. The result of their examinations, as given by Mr Schoolcraft, is, that the

copper which is in a pure and malleable state, lies in connexion with a body of serpentine rock, the face of which it almost completely overlays and is also disseminated in masses and grains, throughout the substance of the rock. The surface of the metal, unlike most oxydable metals, which have suffered a long exposure to the atmosphere, presents a metallic brilliancy—the shape of the rock is very irregular-its greatest length three feet eight inches—its greatest breadth three feet four inches, making about eleven cubic feet, and containing of metallic matter not exceeding twenty two hundred pounds, but the quantity may be much diminished from what it was originally, as there are marks of chissels and axes upon it, and Henry speaks of having cut off an hundred pounds.

Mr Schoolcraft does not determine whence it came, but thinks it must have been removed from its original bed. The obstacles to mining in this region which Henry had to encounter no longer exist, and it is difficult to conceive a reason which would prevent such operations, if skilfully and judiciously conducted, from being productive. Not a doubt can be entertained that the metal abounds there, and would probably be found to be accompanied by tin. From the mouth of the Ontonagon to the Fond du lac are one hundred and seventy miles, making the whole length on the American shore five hundred miles. The Canadian is estimated at twelve hundred, and the whole circumference at seventeen hundred miles, and its medium depth, according to Darby, nine hundred feet. It has several large and well wooded islands. The most interesting of these is the Island of Yellow sands, about which the Indians have many fine fanciful tales, • that its shores are covered with a heavy shining yellow sand, which is gold, but the guardian spirit of the island will not permit any of it to be carried away.

To enforce his commands he has drawn together upon it, myriads of eagles, hawks, and other birds of prey, who by their cries warn him of any. intrusions

upon the domain, and assist with their claws and beaks to expel the enemy. He has also called from the depths of the lake, large serpents of the most hideous forms, who lie thickly coiled upon the golden sands and hiss defiance to the steps of the invader,—that an attempt was once made by some of their nation to carry off a quantity of the glittering sand, when a gigantic spirit strode on the water, and in a voice of thunder commanded them to bring it back.'

As this lake is still so rarely visited, and so little is known about it, which is entitled to credit, we give an extract from Mr Schoolcraft's general remarks upon it.

• The southern coast receives thirty tributary rivers, some of which exceed an hundred and fifty miles in length. Of these the Ontonagan, Montreal, Mauvaise, Bois Brulé, and St Louis are the largest, and communicate with the waters of the Mississippi. The coast is sandy from Point Iroquois to the pictured rocks; then rocky to the foot of the Fond du lac with occasional plains of sand, and then sạndy and without hills to the head of the lake. The forest trees are white and yellow pine, hemlock, spruce, birch, poplar and oak, with a mixture of elm, maple, and ash, upon the banks of the rivers. The coast is very elevated, in some places mountainous, generally sterile and dangerous to navigate." It is subject to storms and sudden transitions of temperature and to fogs and mists, which are often so dense as to obscure objects at a short distance. It has a warm atmosphere during the summer, the mean heat for June being 66°, and for July 64o.

The mean temperature of the water 61°. The winter is long and frightful.'

In regard to the geological formation, we learn from him, that a secondary sandstone forms the whole southern coast, through which the granite on which it rests occasionally ap

and converted into a lithoxyle, we look upon it as carbonized and converted into the substance above named, into which calcareous matter has entered by infiltration, and filled up the fissures formed by the decomposition of some parts, and the shrinking of the fibres, with sulphuret of iron here and there disseminated. A single glance at its cross fracture shows that its vertical layers are not calcareous. It was probably carbonized in some of the coal fields, with which that region abounds, and then swept into the river, where it now lies, and afterwards filled up with the calcareous matter which now constitutes so large a part of it, and enveloped in the alluvial sand of the river. Calcareous lithoxyles are exceedingly rare; in fact we know of none, unless some of the petrifications observed by Riche, Peron, and Le Sueur in their voyage to the terres australes, may be so considered. These are our conjectures they may be wrong, and it looks somewhat like vanity, we confess, to sit here in our attic, and presume to know what is done on the Illinois, better than those who have been on the spot to examine.

W. H. Gostimer ART. XII. The Spy, a tale of the Neutral Ground. By the

author of Precaution. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 537. New York, 1821.

We have long been of opinion that our native country opens to the adventurous novel-writer a wide, untrodden field, replete with new matter admirably adapted to the purposes of fiction. Our views on this subject have already been partially developed, (N. A. Rev. No. 31.) and our conviction has not been staggered by any arguments we have heard opposed to them. That nothing of the kind has hitherto been accomplished, is but a poor argument at best—especially when taken in connexion with the fact, that nothing has as yet been attempted, We are told, it is true, that there is among us a cold uniformity and sobriety of character ; a sad reality and utility in our manners and institutions; that our citizens are a downright, plain-dealing, inflexible, matter-of-fact sort of people; in short, that our country and its inhabitants are equally and utterly destitute of all sorts of romantic association. We are not so foolhardy as to deny the truth of the theory on which

« PreviousContinue »