« AnteriorContinuar »
From the author's omission to state any such thing, and also from the quality of the case, we conclude that no investigation and punishment were thought of for the seducers and the tyrants in this piece of complicated villainy. We wish he had given some information relative to the present state of the remainder and descendants of these most injured emigrants.
The chapter on the 'Extent and Boundaries' of Louisiana,' is probably as long a one as was ever written to trace the outline of a country. Their determination, however, involves a very inconvenient extent of historical inquiry, as depending, in part, on the territorial adjustments fixed in a succession of treaties and other public acts, and on the recorded facts of the actual occupation of advanced positions in right of original discovery. The general result comes out in the following form:
• If the claims of the French are sufficiently supported, Louisiana bounds thus : south on the Gulf of Mexico; west, partly on the Rio Bravo, and partly on the Mexican mountains; north and west, partly on the shining' (or rocky) ‘mountains, and partly on Canada ; east on the Mississippi from its source to the thirty first degree; thence extending east on the line of demarcation, to the Rio Perdido:thence down that river to the gulf of Mexico. The boundaries to the north and north-west are not defined. To what point they will ultimately be sustained from the source of the Mississippi, seems to admit of doubt.' • As these boundaries are undefined, it will be difficult to estimate the quantity of land in Louisiana with any degree of accuracy. If however, we assume as a datum, a line drawn from the the source of the Mississippi in forty-seven degrees, forty-two minutes and forty seconds, north latitude, to where the Missouri leaves the shining mountains, in nearly the same latitude, we may form some reasonable conjectures on the subject. From this extreme point to the mouth of the Mississippi, on a straight line, is two thousand and five miles. The breadth is less certain. The Abbe Raynal calculates it at six hundred miles. But the distance from St. Louis on the Mississippi to the summit of the Mexican mountains, has been determined by pretty accurate observation to be about six hund, ed and fifty-two miles, and this is believed to be near the average breadth of Louisiana. The boundaries we have described embrace one million, three hun. and seven thousand, two hundred and sixty square miles; or eight hundred, thirty six juillions, six hundred and forty six thousand, four hundred acres !
There is a chapter on New Orleans, and the Delta of the Mississipi. The city is described with that extreme minuteness of detail which we never suspect to be out of proportion to the subject, when we are exhibiting a part and a proof of a recent proud acquisition. At the time it fell into the hands of the Americans, it contained about one thousand houses, and eight thousand inhabitants, including blacks and people of
colour.' Almost all the old houses are of wood, of only one story high. Latterly a few of the inhabitants have been enabled to enclose themselves in bad brick, coated with white or coloured mortar.
The Delta is one of those remarkable results of the great operations of nature, on which a sensible observer will hardly ever be accused of expending too much description.
• Nothing is morc certain than that it has gradually risen out of the sea, or rather that it has been formed by alluvious substances, precipitated by the waters from the upper regions. It is calculated that from 1720, to 1800, a period of 80 years, the land has advanced fifteen miles into the sea. The eastern part of New Spain along the gulf, exhibits abundant proofs of similar advances; owing, perhaps, to the constant accumulation of sand by the trade winds, which is driven to the shore by the perpetual motion of the waves in that direction.'
The Mississippi, on approaching the sea, divides into five branches which are deep enough, except on their bars, for the largest ships. The banks of the river, to a great distance northward, are much more elevated than the circumjacent country. This is occasioned by a more copious deposition along the margins than at a distance from them. These are thickly covered with grass, and a vast variety of ligneous plants, which serve to filtrate the waters in their progress to the low grounds and swamps, and to retain the greatest proportion of the alluvious substances.' The Mississippi is not remarkable for good fish; but this defect is compensated by a vast number of alligators. The tides have little effect at New Orleans; they sometimes cause it to swell, but never to slacken its current. It is asserted that no more than one twenty-seventh part of the Delta is susceptible of cultivation. The country, both here near the outlet, and to a great extent on each side of the river many
hundred miles upward, constitutes a world of swamps, with all the appropriate miasmata and pestilence. And though there are particular parts which it might be possible for a strong population, aided by great national resources, to rescue from the dominion of water in its most noxious form, that dominion is founded so invincibly on the conformation of the continent, that a large portion of the southern regions of Louisiana, must continue unfavourable to health and life to the end of time. There are vast tracts which will for ever preclude all human attempts and residence, by the inundation which covers them to a great depth during the season of the overflow of the Mississippi and its great tributary rivers.
The arbitrary line of division into lower and upper Louisiana is drawn about the latitude at which the Arkansas river falls into the Mississippi, between 33 and 34 north. The more distant tracts of the wide western region traversed by this river make rather a dreary appearance in description; immense prairie, with very
little else to attract attention. A traveller, however, who should survey such a wilderness for the first time, would gaze with no small interest and wonder at one of its appearances.
• Immense herds of buffaloe, elk, deer, and a species of the goat, range about this open country, which produces a short grass of which they are fond; and a gentleman of veracity has asserted, that he has seen a drove of them containing at least nine thousand.'
But no one description of the face of the country can be taken as illustrative, generally, of such an iminensity of earth and water; though it is doubtful whether on any of the other continents these elements appear in so few varieties of modification in so ample a space; for the deserts of Africa, and the steppes of Tartary, even if they were of equal extent with the great central wilderness of America, do not present a sameness in which a vast proportion of the active element of water is made to bear its part. Such a display, therefore, of this monotonous though immense scene, as should constitute a proportionate section of general geography, would be confined to very small space of description; though such a representation as should be satisfactory to the citizens of the United States, numbers of whom are looking towards the country with a very different kind of interest and curiosity from any that could arise from the mere taste for geographical knowledge, would require to be given in great extent and particularity. The Major's survey is something between these two, approaching to a minuteness that is tedious to an European general reader, while it is hardly particular and local enough in making the differences of the various parts of the vast territory, to satisfy the careful inquisitiveness of persons having any thought of the experiment of a removal into it. The general effect of the very multifarious account is, that Upper Louisiana is on the whole, a tract of great value and promise; that it has a large proportion of very good soil; that almost every desirable production may be cultivated with complete success; that it has infinite facilities for inland navigation; that, as to the greater part of it, the climate is salubrious, even wonderfully so, considering the heat of its summers and the prodigious surplus of its waters; and that its population, which is in its earliest infancy, is advancing with à rapidity beyond all example. In remarking on the actual proofs of a degree of salubrity which would have beem deemed incompatible with such an excess of heated moisture, he advances the theory, with plausible appearances, that the noxious power is neutralized by the prevalence of limestone in the constitution of a great portion of the countries of the upper Mississippi.
Upper Louisiana appears to be very justly a region of more attraction to the people of the United States than the country of the lower Mississippi, especially to agriculturists of moderate property. What are called capitalists, our author says, are tempted by the greater commercial possibilities of the neighbourhood of the Mexican Gulf.
The Major is very eager to have the country stocked with a population competent to self-defence. We say stocked,---for he has perfectly acquired the diction of political economists, and every where talks of population, and its progress, as if its importance were only relative to the soil, the capacities of which it is adapted to develope, as the French have it
. The use and object of the human animal in any given tract of the earth, is to promote its productiveness as a farm, and to give rank and consequence to it as a state. Man was made as a thing subservient to farms and states. We should be glad to be helped on to the climax, and be permitted to know what farms and states were made for.
The competency to defence, so urgently necessary to be acquired in Louisiana, is chiefly against the inroads of the Indians, who have every advantage against a slender population in such a country.
'An immense number of tribes, and some of them powerful, inhabit the extensive regions on the west side of the Mississippi. Their depredations are frequent, and they entertain no fear of punishment; our ordinary force, especially in Upper Louisiana, including the militia, is not sufficient to create any alarm among them. They are extremely bold in their threats; and perhaps one reason why they hold us so cheap is, that they have never been at war with us, and were never beaten by the whites.'
A chapter of Land Titles,' illustrates, in great detail, the regulations observed by the defunct Spanish government of Louisiana in their grants of land to the colonists. All the grants verified to have been made under the former government, were, of course to be held valid by that of the new proprietor of the country, the United States; but there is no statement of any thing peculiar, as applicable to Louisiana, in the system of the disposal and tenure of lands under this new government. For the present, it seems that much difficulty is made of selling the lands at all; the government, if we understand the Major, being afraid the new settlers would so disperse themselves as to be lost, for any value and use in the capacity of subjects, to the parent state, and also incapable of defending themselves. He himself recommends that the assignments of land should, in the first instance, be confined to certain limited tracts, not too remote for an easy communication with the older states; with this restriction he urgently insists that the colonization should be promoted with all possible assistance and haste. He does not say whether the tenures of the future settlers, are to be like, those of the possessors of lands under the French and Spanish governments, purely allodial.
The topic of Government and Laws' affords a considerable detail, but of no great interest, especially when it is considered that the Spanish and French system will gradually wear away under the new government that has acquired the country. The author seems disposed to a rather favourable estimate of the legislation ; but there is one of the strongest possible presumptions against it in the fact asserted by him, that it was the policy of the Spanish government to keep the people in a great ineasure ignorant of the laws by which they were governed.' A marvellous modesty in the makers of good laws! There must really, however, have been some mysterious and magical principle of efficacy in this legislation, if we are to attribute to it the other fact asserted by the author, that the subjects of it are apparently the happiest people on earth, notwithstanding that • their moral principles are extremely debauched, and their intercourse with each other is marked by the most corrupt profligacy of manners.' The French part of the population of Louisiana is pronounced to be of a much better quality ; ' they always preserved their integrity, their decency, and moral principles; though they lost most of their industry and all their knowledge. It is something less perfectly miraculous, therefore, that of all the people on the globe, the French in Louisiana appear to be the happiest.' But perhaps, after all, the sum of what we can learn from this sort of dashing sentences is, the utter carelessness, or the want of judgement, of the writer of them.
The short chapter about 'Learning and Religion' might have been still shorter, for it is, in effect, to say there is no such thing in the country. Two schools, patronized by public au-. thority, which carried the pupils no further than the Spanish language, with writing and common arithmetic, appear to have been, the last time any thing was heard on the subject, the best, and nearly the whole provision for the literature of the capital, New Orleans; and in the settlements at a distance from it, person who could read and write was considered as a kind of prodigy.' The English Americans are said to be still more deficient than the French.---As to religion, a small quantity of the Popish ritual, on a Sunday, forms, of course, the Christianity of