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time require his absence, a person was to be appointed, in general meeting, to take his place.
Such were the leading conditions of this association ; we shall now proceed to relate the various hardy and eventful expeditions, by sea and land, to which it gave rise.
TWO EXPEDITIONS SET ON FOOT.—THE TONQUIN AND HER CREW.--CAPTAIN
THORN, HIS CHARACTER.—THE PARTNERS AND CLERKS.--CANADIAN VOY AGEURS, THEIR HABITS, EMPLOYMENTS, DRESS, CHARACTER, SONGS.--EXPEDITION OF A CANADIAN BOAT AND ITS CREW BY LAND AND WATER.
ARRIVAL AT NEW YORK,- PREPARATIONS FOR A SEA VOYAGE.-NORTHWEST
BRAGGARTS.-UNDERHAND PRECAUTIONS.—LETTER OF INSTRUCTIONS.
N prosecuting his great scheme of commerce
and colonization, two expeditions were devised
by Mr. Astor, one by sea, the other by land. The former was to carry out the people, stores, ammunition, and merchandise, requisite for establishing a fortified trading post at the mouth of Columbia River. The latter, conducted by Mr. Hunt, was to proceed up the Missouri, and across the Rocky Mountains, to the same point; exploring a line of communication across the continent, and noting the places where interior trading posts might be established. The expedition by sea is the one which comes first under consideration.
A fine ship was provided called the Tonquin, of two hundred and ninety tons burden, mounting ten guns, with a crew of twenty men.
She carried an assortment, of merchandise for trading with the natives of the seaboard and of the interior, together with the frame of a schooner, to be employed in the coasting trade. Seeds also were provided for the cultivation of the soil, and
nothing was neglected for the necessary supply of the establishment. The command of the ship was intrusted to Jonathan Thorn, of New York, a lieutenant in the United States navy, on leave of absence. He was a man of courage and firmness, who had distinguished himself in our Tripolitan war, and, from being accustomed to naval discipline, was considered by Mr. Astor as well fitted to take charge of an expedition of the kind. Four of the partners were to embark in the ship, namely, Messrs. M'Kay, M'Dougal, David Stuart, and his nephew, Robert Stuart. Mr. M'Dougal was empowered by Mr. Astor to act as his proxy in the absence of Mr. Hunt, to vote for him and in his name, on any question that might come before any meeting of the persons interested in the voyage.
Beside the partners, there were twelve clerks to go out in the ship, several of them natives of Canada, who had some experience in the Indian trade. They were bound to the service of the company for five years, at the rate of one hundred dollars a year, payable at the expiration of the term, and an annual equipment of clothing to the amount of forty dollars. In case of ill conduct they were liable to forfeit their wages and be dismissed ; but, should they acquit themselves well, the confident expectation was held out to them of promotion, and partnership. Their interests were thus, to some extent, identified with those of the company.
Several artisans were likewise to sail in the ship, for the supply of the colony ; but the most peculiar and
characteristic part of this motley embarkation consisted of thirteen Canadian “voyageurs,” who had enlisted for five years. As this class of functionaries will continually recur in the course of the following narrations, and as they form one of those distinct and strongly marked castes or orders of people, springing up in this vast continent out of geographical circumstances, or the varied pursuits, habitudes, and origins of its population, we shall sketch a few of their characteristics for the information of the reader.
The “voyageurs” form a kind of confraternity in the Canadas, like the arrieros, or carriers of Spain, and, like them, are employed in long internal expeditions of travel and traffic: with this difference, that the arrieros travel by land, the voyageurs by water ; the former with mules and horses, the latter with batteaux and
The voyageurs may be said to have sprang up out of the fur trade, having originally been employed by the early French merchants in their trading expeditions through the labyrinth of rivers and lakes of the boundless interior. They were coeval with the coureurs des bois, or rangers of the woods, already noticed, and, like them, in the intervals of their long, arduous, and laborious expeditions, were prone to pass their time in idleness and revelry about the trading posts or settlements ; squandering their hard earnings in heedless conviviality, and rivaling their neighbors, the Indians, in indolent indulgence and an imprudent disregard of the When Canada passed under British domination, and the old French trading houses were broken up, the voyageurs, like the coureurs des bois, were for a time disheartened and disconsolate, and with difficulty could reconcile themselves to the service of the new-comers, so different in habits, manners, and language from their former employers. By degrees, however, they became accustomed to the change, and at length came to consider the British fur traders, and especially the members of the Northwest Company, as the legitimate lords of creation.
The dress of these people is generally half civilized, half savage. They wear a capot or surcoat, made of a blanket, a striped cotton shirt, cloth trowsers, or leathern leggins, moccasins of deer-skin, and a belt of variegated worsted, from which are suspended the knife, tobaccopouch, and other implements. Their language is of the same piebald character, being a French patois, embroidered with Indian and English words and phrases.
The lives of the voyageurs are passed in wild and extensive rovings, in the service of individuals, but more especially of the fur traders. They are generally of French descent, and inherit much of the gayety and lightness of heart of their ancestors, being full of anecdote and song, and ever ready for the dance. They inherit, too, a fund of civility and complaisance ; and, instead of that hardness and grossness which men in laborious life are apt to indulge towards each other, they