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The naturalist in Vancouver Island and British Columbia. In two volumes--Vol. I Lord, John Keast, 1818-1872 1866

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      A    GBOUP    OF    SPOKAN    INDIANS
(Drawn from a Photograph).    . THE   NATURALIST
1  \
Many interesting and useful works have been
already published relating to the Colonies of
Vancouver Island and British Columbia, which,
however, contain little if any information on
the subject of their Natural History.
This missing link I venture in some measure
to supply. But ' The Naturalist in Vancouver
Island and British Columbia' is not intended to
be a book on Natural. History merely; neither
does the Author desire to weary his reader with
tedious descriptions of genera and species. Comparative anatomy and physiology can be acquired
at home, but habits are only discoverable by
those who devote themselves to the rough though
Before setting sail from Southampton, it may
perhaps be as well to devote a few pages explanatory of the early history and discovery of Vancouver Island ; why we are going there ; and the
object of the Commission to which I belong.
In the year 1587, we learn, that a Captain Caven*
dish, in order to repair his shattered fortunes, fitted
out three ships for the purpose of plundering on
the high seas. After many unsuccessful raids,
we next hear of him lurking in his ship behind
a spit of land, Cape St. Lucas, on the Californian
coast (a prominent rocky bluff, not unlike 'the
Needles,'), waiting for the ' St. Anna,' a galleon
freighted with rich merchandise and a hundred
and twenty-two thousand Spanish dollars. She
heaves in sight, little dreaming of her danger ;
is pounced upon, boarded, and taken, her trea-*
r ^OiBaB r"$53Sft
sure transferred to the hold of the buccaneer |
the crew rowed ashore, and their ship set on fire.
Death seemed inevitable, when a breeze, which
soon increased to a gale, drifting the burning
hull on the rocks providentially proved a means
of escape, for a raft was made, and launched.
Upon this the men stood out to sea.
After enduring fi'ightful privations, a friendly
ship picked them up, and they eventually reached
Europe in safety. Amongst the sailors rescued
from the raft was a Greek, Apostolos Valerianos,
who for some reason was nick-named by his
shipmates Juan de Fuca. Nine years after his
escape from the raft we hear of him in Venice.
In 1596 Mr. Locke, a merchant, and his
friend John Douglas, a sea-captain, were residing
in Venice, and nightly smoked their pipes at a
snug wine-shop, the resort of sea-faring men.
A constant visitor at this house of entertainment
was a pilot on the Greek seas, who had attracted
Douglas's attention by the wonderful stories he
related; so much so that he induced his friend,
Mr. Locke, to listen to the old man's adventures.*
| For full narrative of Apostolos Valerianos, see Samuel
Purchase His Pilgrims. INTRODUCTION.
The story of the raft we already know. The
remainder was to the effect that he entered into
the service of the Viceroy of Mexico, by whom
he was sent, in a small caraval, to explore the
Californian coast. He managed to reach lat.
47° N., and- finding the coast inclined towards
the N. & NE., and that a wide expanse of sea
opened out between 47° lat., his position, and
48°, he entered the Strait, and sailed through it
for twenty days. Finding the land still tended
to NE. & NW. and also E. & SE., he proceeded,
passing through groups of beautiful islands, and
so sailed on until he came into the North Sea;
but being quite unarmed, and finding the natives
Very hostile, he made his way back, and reported
his discovery of the entrance to what he believed
the North-West Passage.
But the Viceroy was not impressed with the value of the old man's report, and paid him nothing
for it. Disgusted with the government and all
belonging to it, he worked his way back to
the Mediterranean, and we next meet with him
as a pilot on the Adriatic.
Master Locke at once wrote to Sir Walter
Raleigh, Master Hakluyt, and to Lord Cecil,
\ X
asking for 1001. to bring over the mariner who
possessed such a knowledge of the north-west
coast. All thought the information invaluable,
but no one felt disposed to pay the money. Time
wore on; the old storm-worn pilot, growing feeble,
left for his native island. Locke again and
again urged his request. At last the long-
coveted means came, but too late, the old sailor
was no more.
This strange story was current in England
long after he who told it was dead and forgotten.
A few believed it, but the many thought it an
entire fabrication.
In 1776, Captain Cook missed the entrance to
the Straits, and, mistaking the west side of Vancouver Island for the mainland, reported the
story to be a fiction as told by the old sailor. It
will suffice for explanation to skip a crowd of
events," and take up the narrative of the discovery of the island in 1792, when Captain
Vancouver was sent to Nootka Sound, for what
purpose does not matter now. Coasting southwards, he entered the Straits, and eventually came
out at Queen Charlotte Sound: which settled the
question.    The Island bears the name   of its INTRODUCTION.
discoverer (Vancouver Island), the Straits that
of the old sailor (Juan de Fuca).
By the treaty of Washington, the 49th pi. of
lat. N. was to be the recognised Boundary Line,
the course through the sea to be the centre of
the Gulf of Georgia, and thence southward
through the Channel which separates the continent from Vancouver Island, to the Straits of
Juan de Fuca.
The duties of our Commission were to mark
the Boundary line from the coast to the eastern
slope of the Rocky Mountains.
May 1866.  CONTENTS
The Voyage
Victoria—The Salmon: its haunts and habits     ...     36
Fish Harvesting
The Round-fish, Herrings, and Viviparous Fish
Sticklebacks and their Nests—The Bullhead—The Rock- cod
—The Chirus—Flatfish 121
Halibut Fishing—Dogfish—A Trip to Fort Rupert—Ransoming a Slave—A Promenade with a Redskin—Bagging a
Chiefs Head—Queen Charlotte's Islanders at Nanaimo   .    142
Sturgeon-spearing—Mansucker—Clams XIV
Mule-hunting Expedition from Vancouver Island to San
Francisco—The Almaden Quicksilver Mines—Poison-oak
and its Antidote       ........
Sacramento — Stockton — Californian Ground-squirrels —
Grass-valley—Stage Travelling—Hydraulic Washings—
Nevada—Marysville—Up the Sacramento River to Red
Bluffs—A dangerous Bath 221
The Start from Red Bluffs—Mishaps by the "Way—Devil's
Pocket—Adventure at Yreka—Field-crickets—The Californian Quail—Singular Nesting of Bullock's Oriole
Crossing the Klamath River—How to Swim Mules—Sis-ky-
oue Indians—Emigrant Ford—Trout Baling—A Beaver
Town—Breeding-grounds of the Pelicans and various
Water-birds—Pursued by Klamath Indians—Interview
with Chief—The Desert— Prong-horned Antelopes —
Acorns and Woodpeckers—Yellow-headed Blackbirds —
Snake Scout—Arrival at Camp of Commission—End of
Journal 268
Sharp-tailed Grouse—Bald-headed Eagle — Mosquitos—
Lagomys Minimus (Nov. Sp.)—Humming-birds—Urotri-
chus 300
The Aplodontia Leporina. (Rich.) 846 ILLUSTRATIONS
The Kettle   Falls:   a Salmon Leap  on the  Upper
Columbia    .
A group of Spokan Indians
Viviparous Fish .        .      ' .
Sharp-tailed Grouse   .
North-Western Humming-birds
Urotrichus ....
Aplodontia, or Ou-ka-la
to face page 106
1 185
I 300
I 328
i 338
„   346
ge 88
line 19, for blubbering read blubbery
,,   20, for ■within read, in
„     2, for scenery on my left.   The read scenery.    On my
left the
23, for Nimkis read Nimkish
9, for this cannon read these cannons
13,/or cauiare read caviare
9, for are read is; and line 18, for fourteen read seven
9, for three read one
8, for pack and equipment read pack equipment
5,  heading to chapter, for The Desert Prong-horned
read The Desert—Prong-horned
8, for Reiney read Reiner
12 for Actomys read Arctomys ft
Whether Good Friday was more unlucky than
Fridays usually are, in the estimation of seagoing men, I know not, but from England to St.
Thomas we encountered a succession of headwinds and terrific seas. Of course it was the regular typical storm: ' waves running mountains
high, threatening instantaneously to engulph the
struggling ship in a watery abyss; rent sails,
creaking timbers, men lashed to the wheel (real
tarry Ixions); screaming mothers, and remarkably sick papas and passengers,'—that ended in
our case, as it usually does in all sensation sea-
voyages. St. Thomas was arrived at in perfect
safety, some few days after time.
Amongst the passengers was a lady, fat beyond anything I have ever seen (of the human
kind) outside a show. From the time of her appearance in the morning until her bedtime, she
invariably sat in one place—her throne a small
sofa, behind the cabin-door. Flying-fish were
constantly driven on the deck of the steamer, or
flung up into the sponsons by the paddlewheels;
and being most anxious to preserve some of these
curious tenants of the ocean, I tried every means
to procure them; but the ' stout party,' by resorting to most unjustifiable bribing, so enslaved
the sordid mind of the steward, that he got hold
of the fish in spite of me, and actually had the
delicate beauties cooked, and ignominiously fried
at the galley-fire, for that terrible old lady to eat.
With regret and indignation I have watched her
munching them up, and wickedly longed to see
her prostrated by that terrible leveller seasickness, or the victim of dyspepsia—evil wishes of no
avail: she ate on, in healthful hungry defiance of
wind and waves, and the wrath of an injured
The first peep one gets of the little Danish
town of St. Thomas, too well known to need
more than a casual notice, is picturesque and
pretty. Built on the scarp of a steep hill, its
houses arranged in terraces, and all painted with
bright and gaudy colours; its feathery groves of THE  VOYAGE.
tamarind-trees; gay gardens decked with flowers,
possessing a brilliancy and magnitude seen only
in a hot climate; together with the showy dresses
of the natives, it becomes the more impressive
as contrasted with the sombre island so recentlv
left behind.
Scarcely had the ' Parana' steamed into the
harbour—much more, by the way, like a stagnant
cesspool than a rocky inlet, filled with pure sea-
water—when boats of all sizes, and far too numerous to count, crowded round us. Everyone,
seeming at once to forget seasickness and rough
weather, scrambled into this medley fleet, and
with all speed were rowed ashore—there to remain, during the transference of the mails and
baggage from the English steamer to the other
vessels waiting to take their departure.
It-has often puzzled me to imagine, why travellers in steamboats and sailing-ships invariably
do the same thing. Take this very case as an instance of what I mean. Though yellow-fever
was raging like a plague, still the greater number
of the passengers made straight for the hotel,
and there arid then devoured a heavy breakfast
composed of bad fish, raw vegetables (libellously
called salad), unripe fruits, followed by a brown
substance,  in size, shape,  and  texture, vastly
like to the heel of a boot floating in hot oil,
which we are informed by the polite waiter is
'bef steek a la Anglais'—the whole washed
down with copious libations of intensely sour
claret iced to the freezing-point.
The next thing in the programme is the exploration of the town, during which all sorts of
things are purchased at fabulous prices, that
can never, by any possibility, be required. Such
unusual exercise in a hilly place, exposed to the
scorching heat of the sun, soon begets a feverish
thirst, necessitating copious draughts of iced-
water dashed with cognac, unlimited cobblers,
or more cold sour poison. Raw vegetables, acid
wine, cobblers, cognac, cocoanut, and other
' comestibles' soon produce disagreeable admonitory twinges: dread of yellow-fever immediately suggests itself—bang goes the signal-gun!
A hasty scamper for the boats dispelling further
alarm, all rush on board, there to compare notes,
groan over their pains and stupidity, and go
through precisely the same performance at the
next place of landing.
At St. Thomas we exchanged the commodious steamer ' Parana' for the ' Trent,' much
more famous for getting into trouble than for
getting  out  of it.    The  run  from  the  island
across the Caribbean Sea to Santa Marta, after the
tumblings and bufferings that would have been
good training for an acrobat, endured betwixt
England and St. Thomas, seemed to me the
very perfection of sea-travelling. Although a
most enjoyable passage, still it became monotonous: one tires of old threadbare jokes and
yarns, and wearies even of gazing day after day
into the clear blue sea, each day appearing the
very counterpart of the other.
Sluggish lump-fish, with their uncouth heads
and misshapen bodies, continually wriggle slowly
and idly along with us; sun-fish, in their particoloured armour, float by, ever performing eccentric undulations. Now a stiff, black fin
cleaves the water suspiciously, leaving a wake
behind, as would a miniature ship—the danger-
signal of a greedy shark; huge leaves of kelp,
wrack, and sea-tangle drift by, rafts to myriads
of crustaceans and minute zoophytes; the rudder
creaks and groans to the music of its iron chains,
clanking; over the friction-rollers, as the helms-
man turns the wheel; sea-birds peep at us, then
wheel away to be seen no more; whilst ever
following are the ' Chickens of Mother Carey,'
dipping, but never resting, on the ripple at the
I had both heard and read of a formidable
fortress that once guarded the entrance to the
snug harbour, on one side of which stands the
neat little town of Santa Marta, embowered
amidst the trees. We sighted the land before
it was dark, but the captain deemed it expedient to lay-off and await the daylight, ere
venturing through the narrow entrance between
the rock on which stands the remains of the fortress and the mainland. Issuing strict orders,
coupled with a silver refresher, to my cabin-boy
to call me before daylight, I turned in, and was
soon in dreamland; my dreams were dispelled
by a sudden shake, and the voice of the faithful
darkie boy screaming into my ear, ' Hi, massa,
him no see fort if him no tumble out and tumble
up pretty quick.' Lightly clad and hardly
awake, I rush, glass in hand, on deck, and
quietly seat myself in the bow of the steamer.
It was just in the grey of the morning; not a
sound disturbed the deathlike silence, save the
'splash-splash' of the slowly-revolving paddle-
wheels. I could discern on my right a dim line
of trees, that looked as if they grew from out the
water; on my left the dark rock, crowned with
its ruined fort, that, as the light increased and
the rays of the rising sun slanted down upon it, THE  VOYAGE.
looked like a mass of frosted silver—so brilliant
was the contrast to the dark water and darker
woods, still in shadow, behind and around it.
Delighted with the singular beauty of the
scene, and wandering, in imagination, far away
into the vistas of the past, recalling scenes
of frightful atrocity once enacted within the
dreaded gates of the buccaneers' stronghold—
wondering too if gems and gold, plunder
wrenched from many a rich argosy, still lay
hidden amidst the dust of its crumbling walls—
a sudden flash, and a jerk that sent me sprawling
on the deck, at once recalled my thoughts from
the past to the present. Utterly oblivious of
what had happened, as I scrambled on my legs,
a. stifled laugh induced me to look round. ' Wish
I may never taste rum again, Cap'en, if I ever see
you a-sittin on the signal-gun,' said a sly-looking
rascal in sailor's dress. There was a roguish leer
in his eye that revealed the whole secret. Seeing
me seated on the signal-carronade, loaded to announce our arrival, was too tempting a chance to
indulge in a practical joke for Jack to resist; so
he quietly touched off the gun, without giving me
any notice. No doubt he has had many a hearty
laugh at my expense since then, when telling the
' yarn' in far-away latitudes.     Our stay in the THE  VOYAGE.
harbour was very brief; the mails and a passenger
or two landed, away we steamed again.
At Carthagena we only lay-off a short time, to
land the mails, and take on board the strangest assemblage of natives I ever saw. They were bound
for Colon, to sell the various products of their
farms, gardens, and native forests. We were about
half a mile from the beach; a good rolling; swell
broke, in small waves, against the ship's sides, and
spread its foam far up the shingle inshore. Up
to their waists might be seen the dusky forms of
the natives, launching; long;, uglv, shallow canoes,
dug from out the solid wood. Soon a perfect
fleet of them neared us, each striving to be first
alongside ; as they converged, and steadily
packed together, into a confused mass, the yelling,
screaming, and swearing in bad Spanish, mixed
with some unknown tongue, baffled all description.
Bad as the hubbub was when some distance
from the steamer, it was ten times worse as they
literally fought and struggled to get on board.
Those who were to be passengers, in dread of
being left behind, dashed from canoe to canoe,
reckless of the rage of those intent only on
selling their wares. Here one held up a poor
little drenched and shivering monkey, another a
screaming parroquet, a third a squirrel; others THE  VOYAGE.
fruits, strings of beads, vegetables, bunches of
bananas, and cocoanuts—all shrieking at the
very top of their voices, but what they said no
living soul could tell. Soon the deck forward
was filled with its live and dead freight. The
first turn of the paddlewheel sent the queer-
looking assemblage scudding out of the way, to
ply back again, with their unsold wares, to dingy
old Carthagena.
As we steamed quietly along, I had time to
examine the new arrivals. Squatted in little
groups or families, each group had all its
property, piled or stowed in some fashion, amidst
them, consisting of bundles of all shapes and
sizes, crockery, parrots and parroquets, quantities of eggs and live poultry, fruits such as
are usually consumed in tropical countries; bananas, mangoes, cocoanuts, water-melons, bad
oranges, and vegetables; but what was most
valued and cared for, clearly the grand object
of the visit, were numbers of gamecocks, all
trimmed, according to the most approved fashion,
and tied by the leg, either to the bedding or,
failing anything else, to the person of the owner.
These Carthagenian blacks are evidently of
mixed descent; most likely a sprinkling of
Spanish blood flows through their veins.    The
m 10
men, of small stature, are lithe, sinewy, and extremely active; the women have a decided tendency to become fat; one or two of them had
attained to such a state of obesity, that walking
was next to an impossibility. The children are
the most singular little frights imaginable;
guiltless of garments, they seemed all eyes and
stomach, arms and legs being merely trifling
unessential appendages; a singularity of form
that may, I presume, be traced to the habit of
consuming such vast quantities of innutritious
vegetable food, i
We reached Colon (or Aspinwall, as the
Americans have named it) in due course, and
landed about- midday. The outfit being enormously heavy, some time had necessarily to
be occupied in landing; and as the afternoon
train was about to start, it was deemed the
wiser course to send the men and officers
at once to Panama, where Her Majesty's ship
'Havannah' was waiting to take us to Vancouver
Island—the Commissioner and myself remaining at Colon, with a sergeant and small working-
party, to bring on the baggage. All the
attendant miseries of unshipping such a heterogeneous medley of packages as we. had on board
was finished at last, and our equipment safely
stowed away in the goods-vans of the Panama
Railway Company.
An invitation from the manager of the railway
© j
to the Commissioner to sleep at their messhouse
was by him gladly accepted 'r a favour not extended to myself, so I had to take up my quarters
at the ' Howard House.' Now the ' Howard House'
was managed precisely on the same plan as a travelling wild-beast show ; the entire attraction was
on the outside. The bar-room, brilliantly lighted,
and glittering with gilt, glass, and gaudy ornaments, was open to the street; an array of rocking-chairs, before the pillars supporting the verandah, enabled the luxurious lounger to sit
with his heels higher than his head, and in smoky
abstraction contemplate his toes. The barman,
all studs and shirt-front, hardly deigned to
answer my request for a bed, but, pointing
to the entry-book, said, ' Waal, you'd better
sign.' My name duly inscribed on the page
of a huge and particularly soiled book, a key
was handed me, adorned with a brass label,
attached to a chain of like material, with
No. 10 on it. ' Guess, stranger, I want a dollar—
and you jist look here: there are two beds, so
if anyone comes along, he'll jist have to room
with you.'   This I decidedly objected to.   'Waal,
—= 12
can't help it nohow; thar ain't no other room.'
' If I pay for both beds,' I replied, ' surely I can
have it all to myself?' This was at length
agreed to, the money paid, and at an early
hour I turned in, to enjoy a. good sound sleep
Excepting two miserable, hard, curtainless beds,
an old rickety chest of drawers, and a couple of
chairs, the room was destitute of furniture; but
spite of all discomfort, mosquitos, and other pests,
felt if not seen or heard, I fell fast asleep, soon
to be roused again by a loud knocking at my
door, the sound of numerous feet scuffling hurriedly up and down the passage, and a very Babel
of voices. Hardly awake, my ideas were in a
jumbled sort of chaos as to the cause. Fire,
burglars, riots, a house-fight, were all mixed in
strange confusion, until an angry voice, that
appeared to come through the speaker's nose,
yelled, rather than spoke, ' Say, ar you agwine
to open this door ? Our women want them beds
for a lay-out, and jist mean to havin em, anyhow.' 'Ah!' thought I, 'they want the spare
bed I have paid for.' Of course I refused—who
would not?—and,  dragging the old   chest  of
' Co      o
drawers against the door, defied them to do
their worst. THE  VOYAGE.
In the angiy parley that ensued, I discovered
that a steamer had just arrived from New York,
en route to the new gold-diggings in British-
Columbia, with 1,500 passengers, who, rowdylike,, demanded everything. Threats of administering the summary law of Judge Lynch-—of
firing their six-shooters through the door, and
riddling me like a rat in a hole—together with
sundry hard names (it is better to imagine than
mention), were heaped profusely on my devoted
head. As it appeared to me quite as unsafe to
surrender as to remain in my fortress, I determined on holding out to the last.
Fortunately, daylight soon came, and with it
the shrill whistle and clanging bell; announcing
the departure of a railway-train. Peeping cautiously through the window, I saw, to my intense
delight, a long train specially put on, and the
rowdies just ready to start. I watched them
scrambling in, and as the engine with its freight
dashed into the tropical jungle, I emerged from
my room and the ' Howard House' with all possible speed, completed my toilet at the barber's
shop, breakfasted with the Commissioner at the
Company's messroom, and thus ended my night
in Colon.
The agency and mess  establishment of the 14
Panama Railway Company are really delightful
residences, overshadowed by cocoanut trees, and
surrounded by perfect bijous of gardens entirely reclaimed from the swamps: the papaw,
the banana, blossoming creeping plants, fruit-
bearing vines, and curious orchids, all growing
together, a wild tangle of loveliness, yielding
beauty, fruits, and shade. The cool verandah, and
cane-chairs from China, together with the comfortably-furnished interior, gave ample proof that
the products of a tropical country may be used
to good account, as additions to our northern ideas
of a substantial home.
One of the most singular flowers growing in
this pretty garden was an orchid, called by the
natives 'Flor del Espiritu Santo,' or the 'Flower
of the Holy Ghost.' The blossom, white as
Parian-marble, somewhat resembles the tulip inform ; its perfume is not unlike that of the magnolia, but more intense; neither its beauty nor
fragrance begat for it the high reverence in
which it is held, but the image of a dove placed
in its centre. Gathering the freshly-opened
flower, and pulling apart its alabaster petals,
there sits the dove; its slender pinions droop
listlessly by its side, the head inclining gently
forward, as if bowed in humble submission, brings
the delicate beak, just blushed with carmine, in
contact with the snowy breast. Meekness and
innocence seem embodied in this singular freak
of nature; and who can marvel that crafty priests,
ever watchful for any phenomenon convertible
into the miraculous, should have knelt before this
wondrous flower, and trained the minds of the
superstitious natives to accept the title the
' Flower of the Holy Ghost,' to gaze upon with
awe and reverence, sanctifying even the rotten
wood from which it springs, and the air laden
with its exquisite perfume? But it is the flower
alone I fear they worship; their minds ascend
not from ' nature up to nature's God;' the image
only is bowed down to, not He who made it.
The stalks of the plant are jointed, and attain a
height of from six to seven feet, and from each
joint spring two lanceolate leaves; the time of
flowering is in June and July.
We were to have a special train (the cost
of crossing the isthmus was something enor-
mous—the actual amount I do not now remember) ; and as we were most desirous to see as
much of the country as possible, an open goods-
truck was appropriated to our use, in which we
could stand, and have a full peep at everything
as we  steamed  along.    Whilst  the  train  was If
getting ready, I took a turn over the Company's
wharf .and round the town.
The Wharf, built on piles driven into the
coral reef, extends about a thousand feet in
length, and forty in width, with a depth of
water at its landing-end sufficient to float the
largest ship. The piles are from the forests of
Maine, and have to be coppered above' high-
water-mark, to resist the destroying power
of a boring worm (Teredo jvmbriata), that
would otherwise destroy them in a very few
months. The Freight Department is a handsome stone structure, three hundred feet long by
eighty wide, through the arched entrance to
which is a triple line of rails.
Man, it is said, differs from all other animals,
in being •' a tool and a road-making animal,' the
truth .of which was Well exemplified in the
curious assemblage of products collected from
all parts of the world, and stowed in this
huge house, brought by man's ocean highways,
and awaiting removal by his iron roads and
Ceroons of cochineal and indigo from Guatemala and San Salvador, cocoa from Ecuador,
sarsaparilla from Nicaragua, coffee from Costa
Rica, hides from the North and South Pacific
coasts,  copper-ore   from   Bolivia,  linen   goods THE  VOYAGE.
from the French and English markets, beef,
pork, hard bread, cheese from the States, and
silks from China.
The town of Colon, as everybody perhaps does
not know, stands on a small island called Man-
zanilla, cut off from the mainland by a narrow frith ; the entire island being about one
square mile in extent, composed of coral reefs,
and only raised a few feet above highwater-
level. It has no supply of fresh water but
what is obtained during the heavy rains; this,
collected in immense iron tanks, that hold over
four thousand gallons, supplies the inhabitants
during the dry seasons.
The most conspicuous objects one meets with
in this dismal place are flocks of turkey-buzzards (useful inspectors or nuisances, as they
do their own work of removal), pigs, naked dirty
little children in legions, blear-eyed mangy curs
that do nothing but growl and sleep; together
with peddling darkies,, bummers, and loafers
(I know no other names so expressive of this
species of idler as these Transatlantic ones), that
employ their time much in the same fashion as
the curs. A bine of shops faces the sea, and at
a little distance is the ' mingillo,' or native mar-
vol. i. C
i) 18
ketplace, a spot no one would be disposed to
linger in or visit a second time, unless the nose
could be dispensed with. ' Noses have they but
they smell not,' must surely apply to the dwellers
in the marketplace; the air is literally (and not
in figure of speech only) laden with the mingled
fragrance of past and present victims, an odour
far more potent than pleasant. Surely ladies
never go to market in Colon!
The train was by this time ready to take us
to Panama, and, with a parting scream, the iron
horse rushed into the tropical wilderness. On
leaving Colon, the line winds its way through a
deep cutting across a morass, and along the right
bank of the Rio Chagres ; glimpses are caught
of the river from amidst the tangled and twisted
foliage that shuts it in on either side like dense
walls. From out this leafy chaos rise the gaunt
trunks of the mango, cocoa-nut, plane, cieba, and
stately palm. Plantains, too, spread their green
succulent leaves—sunshades of nature's own contriving—to protect the tender growths that love
to live beneath them.   Every tree seemed stranc-
j ©
ling in the coils of trailing vines and climbers;
real ropes, pendents, and streamers of. brilliant
blossoms, fit resting-places for the birds and butterflies, themselves like living flowers. Wondrous THE VOYAGE.
orchids, grotesque in form and colouring, grew
everywhere, springing alike from the living and
the dead; for amidst this flood of vegetable life,
decay and beauty, like twin sisters, walk hand-
We stopped at Gatun for a short time, the
station being close to the little village of bamboo
huts thatched with palmetto-leaves, and only
remarkable as being the place where the 'bon-
goes ' (or native boats) used to stop for the travellers to refresh themselves ere the railroad
was. From here the line skirts the bases of an
irregular series of hills to cross the Rio Gatun,
tributary to the Rio Chagres, on a well-made
truss girder-bridge of seventy feet span; passed
Frijoli, where the fields of golden maize were
decked with what looked, at a distance, like immense bouquets of scarlet flowers; and along the
banks of the Rio Chagres, which are here very
deep, to cross it at Barbacous on a wrought-iron
bridge, six hundred and twenty-five feet in length,
eighteen in breadth, and forty feet above the
surface of the water. There are six spans, each
over a hundred feet; iron floor girders, three feet
apart, support the rails—the entire structure
resting on five piers and two abutments.
n 2
V 20
After crossing the river, the country becomes
open, and large patches of rich land are seen
under a rude kind of cultivation, until the
native town of Gorgona is reached, where, in
old days, boats were exchanged for horses and
mules, on the overland route.
Leaving the course of the river, the line
passes through deep clay banks and rocky cuttings, suddenly emerging on the green meadow-
lands surrounding Matuchin. I never gazed on
a more exquisite panorama. Dotting the foreground was a pretty native village; to the left
the Chagres, and its tributary the Rio Obispo;
on the right a group of conical hills, so clothed
with vegetation that it was impossible to imagine
what the land would look like if the trees were
cut away. During our stay at this station we
were regularly beset; numerous vendors of native
merchandise crowded into and round about the
open van; grey-haired old men, and women,
pushed trays under our very noses, covered with
filthy pastry, gingerbread, sweetstuff, and other
like abominations; whilst little black urchins sat
like imps on the rails of the truck, each with
some live captive for sale—monkey, squirrel,
parrot, or other bright-plumaged bird.
Following  the  valley of the  Obispo, which THE  VOYAGE.
river is crossed twice within a mile on iron
bridges, we ascend gradually (the gradient being
about sixty feet in the mile) to reach the watershed, over which the descent commences to
the Pacific. About a mile from the summit
the line winds through a huge pile of basaltic
columns, that look as if some Titan force had
hurled them into the air, and let them fall again
7 ©
one over the other, like a mass of driftwood
piles itself in a North American river. Below,
the Rio Grande may be seen, a mere brawling
burn; a short distance through thick woods,
and we are at Paraiso; as unlike one's ideal
of paradise as Cremorne Gardens or Ratcliff
Highway. Again we reach the swampy lowlands with their dense growths; ahead, and
looming high in the glowing atmosphere, stands
Mount Ancon, whose southern base is bathed
by the blue waters of the Pacific; on the left,
Cerro-de-los-Buccaneros, or the Hill of the Buccaneers, from whose summit the terrible Morgan
first looked on old Panama in the year 1670.
We rattle past San Pedro Miguel and Caimi-
tillo, small tidal tributaries to the Rio Grande,
scream through the Rio Grande Station, sweep
round the base of Mount Ancon ; and before
us are the tall spires of the cathedral, the long
ill 22
metal roofing of the terminus, and the. quiet
waters of the Pacific.
Captain Harvey, R.N., then in command of
Her Majesty's ship ' Havannah,' met us at the
terminus; the ship's boats were in waiting to
take both men and baggage on board, so that I
saw but little of Panama. My old foes (that
waged war against me at Colon), the gold-
seekers, were assembled on the wharf, awaiting
the small tugboat to take them off to the larger
steamer anchored in the offing. To judge from
appearances, there were amongst them a goodly
sprinkling that would have deemed lynching or
riddling a Britisher, a capital joke.
A tropical sun soon makes one thirsty. I
wanted ' a drink,' and for the first time tasted
iced cocoanut-milk ; never in my life have I
ever drunk anything half as delicious. Don't
imagine that, in the least degree, it resembles
the small teacupful of sweet insipid stuff dribbled out from the cocoanut as we buy it here in
England. What we eat as kernel is liquid in
the young nut, and the outer husk soft enough
to push your thumb through. Surely the cocoa-
nut palm must have been specially designed for
the dwellers in the tropical world! It supplies
everything uncivilised man can possibly need, to THE VOYAGE.
build his ships, rig, paddle, and sail them;
from its products, too, he can make his houses,
and obtain food, drink, clothing, and culinary
utensils. Strictly littoral in its habits, the cocoa-
palm loves to loll over the sea, and let the frothy
ripple wash its rootlets. This also looks like
another link in the chain of Divine intentions.
The nuts necessarily fall into the sea—winds and
currents carry them to coral reefs, or strand
them on desert shores, there to grow, and, by a
sequence of wondrously-ordered events, in time
make it habitable for man. The ' Havannah \
dropped down to the beautiful island of Tobago,
to take in water ere she sailed for Vancouver
As we crossed the Bay of Panama (which is,
I bel
ve, about
135 miles wide, running inland
120), pelicans, far too numerous to count, were
floating high in . the air, some of them mere
specks. The species Pelecanus fuscus (the brown
pelican) is a permanent resident on the southern
coasts of America, frequenting in great numbers
the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, California, the
Bay of Panama, and other sheltered inlets. They
frequently build in the trees, although the nest is
quite as often placed on the ground, even when
the former are close at hand.    My acquaintance 24
with the pelicans in the Zoological Gardens in the
Regent's Park had given me an idea of clumsi-
© ©
ness, and to see them spooning the fish from out
their pond is certainly no indication of being
adepts at fishing. I know no prettier sight than
to watch the brown pelican fishing in the Bay of
Panama ; no awkwardness there, every movement
easy and graceful. Soaring high in the lurid atmosphere, to the eye little more than a tiny dark
spot, suddenly down comes the bird as if hurled
from the clouds; plunging in head-first, its sharp
beak cleaves the water like a wedge; a fish seized
is at once pouched; and, rising without any apparent effort from the sea, it soars off again, to
look out for another chance. Should the fish be
missed, an event that does not often happen, the
bird sits quietly on the water, and stares round
in stupid astonishment.
We remained several days at Tobago ; and as
we rode at anchor in the deep roadstead, I could
have easily pitched a penny into the groves of
tamarind and orange-trees, that grew on the very
beach. From the sea-line to the summit of the
island, which is quite a thousand feet in altitude,
the hills rise in terraces, but so densely clothed
with cocoa-nut, banana, tamarind, orange, and THE  VOYAGE.
other tropical trees, that one hardly credits the
existence of terraces, or that hill and valley are
hid beneath the unbroken surface of green. A
little village lies hid in a palm-grove at the base
of the hill, and in the ravine behind it bubbles
up the spring of pure fresh water, that never
fails, and from which all vessels touching at
Panama obtain their supply.
Mr. Baurman, a geologist, accompanied me on
a ramble through its woods and along the sea-
coast.    We did nothing to distinguish ourselves
© ©
save   getting   frightfully  hot,  being   wellnigh
famished with thirst (for we were far away from
the water), and although I fired at the cocoanuts
in the hope of bringing one down, only succeeded
in making holes in  them  and letting out the
much-coveted milk, that fell on us like a shower
of rain;   shooting  a few  doves  amongst   the
pineapples, and a turkey-buzzard on the summit
—a frightful crime in Tobago, of which, at the
time, I was in happy ignorance; but, fortunately
for me,   Baurman  carried the   bird,  and was
deemed, for his good nature, the greater culprit.
The most singular sight we stumbled on was a
© ©
bull, saddled and bridled in equine fashion, with
a black man riding on his back.
Tauro might Ill
have been a good hack, but he certainly did not
look so as he waddled lazily along with his sable
The inhabitants, with few exceptions, are
blacks. There was one girl (the property of as
repulsive an old demon as one could well see)
perfectly blonde, fair even to paleness, with soft
blue eyes and long golden hair, that hung in
wavy ripples down to her waist—her feet and
hands delicately small, and a figure Venus might
have envied. Where she came from no one
knew : one might have supposed her the descendant of some Viking, if Vikings had ever
cruised in the Pacific. Perhaps her owner was
a ' Black Pirate,' Avho stole the damsel, and
knifed her friends; not bad material for a
sensation story—' The Fair Captive of Tobago.'
The view from the summit was exceedingly
lovely. Behind, and to the right and left, the
dark-green slope looked as if one could have
slid into the vessels at their anchorage; before,
a vertical wall of rock a thousand feet from
the sea. It looked to me as if the island
had been broken in two in the centre, and
that one-half had sunk into the water and disappeared; the air quivered even at this height,
as it does over a limekiln; not a leaf stirred	 THE  VOYAGE.
the intensely blue sea was unrippled far as eye
could reach; the very birds and insects, too
hot to fly, sat panting under the shadow of the
leaves. We gathered a pineapple, but it tasted
hot, as if half-roasted.
I am not favourably impressed with the honesty
of the islanders that do the washing, or rather
that do not do it. Following the example of
the officers of the ' Havannah,' I delivered my
bag of clothes, the accumulation since leaving
© » . ©
England, to the washer, who promised, as only
a black washerman will promise, to have it on
board before we sailed: he kept his word, for he
came when the ship was under weigh, had his
money, and with bows, and prayers for my welfare in this world, vanished over the side. We
were well out to sea when I looked at my bag;
imagine my wrath at finding everything just as
I had given it. It was lucky for the rascal
he was out of reach, and perhaps quite as well for
me; a dollar (4s.) a dozen to carry one's clothes
ashore, most likely to wear, and bring back
again dirtier than it went, would enrage the
meekest saint!
The voyage in the' Havannah' from Panama to
Vancouver Island was a long and wearisome
one.    We left Tobago on June 4, and entered 28
the Straits of Juan de Feuca on July 12. Reference to the track-chart shows how we idled
and idled along on the sea, sauntering, rather
than sailing; with a blazing sun right over
the masthead, the heat was intolerable, and attended with a depressing languor, that forbade
all energy, and fairly melted one in body and
mind. The only land sighted was a very distant
view of the Gallopagos Islands, a mere black-looking spot on an interminable surface of blue. This
group of volcanic islands, so strangely isolated,
might have been a monster fish, a phantom ship,
or even the great sea-serpent, for anything that
could be definitely made out, even aided by a
ship's telescope.
We caught great numbers of dolphins (Cory-
phama hippuris), which are far more lovely to
the eye than agreeable to the palate, in my estimation. This fish, usually from four to five feet
in length, is built for rapid passage through the
water: the tail, forked like horns, together.with
the long dorsal fin, reaching from head to tail,
enables it to turn with an ease and celerity
during even its swiftest transit through the sea.
All who have written (in prose or poetry) about
the dolphin have attempted a description of its
marvellous colouring: to convey, by word-paint-
ing, the slightest idea of the changing, flashing,
glowing radiance that plays around and upon
this fish, when fresh from the ocean, is as impossible as to describe the colours of the Aurora, or
the phosphorescence of the tropical seas; it must
be witnessed to be realised in all its magnifi-
cence. Flying-fish are its favourite food, and
these the dolphins course as greyhounds course
hares; what is called ' flying' being merely an ex-
tended leap, aided by the immensely-elongated
pectoral fins, made in sheer desperation to escape the voracious sea-hounds so hotly pursuing
In reference to these same flying-fish, the
species washed on board the ' Parana' by the
waves of the turbulent Atlantic, and that found
their way into the stomach of a dolphin of terrestrial habits, was Exocetus exiliens. I could
see nothing of its movements, as the sea simply
washed it into the sponsons, or left it floundering
on the deck. Its general appearance was exactly
like a newly-caught herring: the scales, thin and
rounded, easily detached, and adhered to the
hand; the back a light steel-blue, with greenish
reflections, shading into silvery whiteness on the
sides ; the pectoral fins reached quite to the tail,
and were shaped like the wings of a swift; the 30
dorsal and anal fins are opposite each other, and
placed near the tail, which is deeply but unevenly forked—the lower limb being much the
longer; the ventral fins, which are posterior to
the middle of the body, are unusually long and
strongly rayed.
But in the uncomfortably calm Pacific, where
I watched the flying-fish* every day, and often all
day long, I had ample opportunity to observe its
so-called ' flying.' The species that tenant the
two oceans are very nearly allied, Exocetus voli-
tans being the one common to the Pacific; but it
is of habits I wish to treat, not of minute specific
distinctions—that can be settled in the studio.
It seems to me that the distance traversed when
the fish leaps from the sea, and the length of
time it remains out of the water, are much overestimated in books on Natural History. Ten or
twelve seconds may be taken as the average time
of its flight, and eighty yards the maximum
distance traversed when the water is perfectly
tranquil; if aided by a breeze of wind, or propelled from the crest of a breaker, the distance
accomplished would necessarily be greater; but
the fins have no power to raise the fish a single
inch above the level of its leap, and simply aid in
its support, as the extended skin of the flying- THE  VOYAGE.
squirrel bears it up in its spring from bough to
bough. I have never seen the fins vibrated or
flapped, as all wings invariably are, but, stiff
and rigid, are extended and still, until the fish
plunges into the sea. Numbers, beyond all computation, were constantly seen by us in the air
together, when chased by predatory fish. The
flying-fish, as a rule, is about twelve inches in
We caught several sharks, and an immense
hammerhead (Zygana vulgaris), that we could
not catch, followed us for a very long time. As
I looked at him sailing along under the stem
of the ship, I was at a loss to imagine for what
purpose such a head was given to it; exactly like
an immense caulking-hammer, with an eye in
each end; in every other detail of shape, and in
habits of voracity too, as far as I know, it resembles the ordinary sharks. That it is so constructed to serve some special purpose in its
economy there can doubt, but what that
may be, remains to be discovered. We fished
for albatross with marked success, to be devoured by both men and officers, stuffed as a
goose: the rag from off the bung of a cask of
whale-oil, rubbed with an onion and chewed,
would be mildly flavoured as compared to the
23 32
flesh of this sea-bird. Petrels were ever with us,
like flights of martins round the habitations of
man; always on the wing, never resting, or roosting either, as far as I could see; watch them in
© 7 '
their easy graceful flight, till the last lingering ray
of light sank away beneath the watery horizon;
and, as night wrapped them in her sable mantle,
they were still on the wing. Be on deck as the
first blush of early dawn crept drowsily over the
sleeping sea, and with the rosy light came the
petrels, still flying, as they had vanished in the
darkness. We tried to catch them by loosing
long threads over the stern, and tangling them,
like human spiders; we did trap one, but the
sailors were mutinous at such unheard-of barbarity ; injuring the chickens of ' Mother Carey '
was an offence not to be tolerated, even in a
zealous naturalist; so, at the captain's request,
the cotton webs were abandoned. The one taken
was the black stormy petrel, Thalassidroma
melania (C.Buonaparte) : upper plumage entirely
black (as are the wing-coverts), below feluginous ;
tail deeply forked, and very short.
It is a well-marked species, and readily distinguished from all its kindred by the absence
of white on the rump and wing-coverts. We
caught a huge turtle with a hook and line: a 11
number of lines were hanging from the bow, the
ship almost still, when there was a tremendous
hue-and-cry that a turtle was hooked.    To hold
him with the line would have   been an  utter
impossibility—he could have smashed it like packthread.    The barbed  trident called ' a grains'
was brought into immediate requisition, and from
the ' dolphin-striker' an experienced hand sent
it crashing through the turtle's armour-plates ; a
boat was lowered, tackle rigged, and the ponderous reptile safely deposited on the deck.    The
species I was unable to determine, for I had
barely time to seize the sucking-fish (Remora)
that were clinging to its shell in clusters, and
observe the curious beings, parasitic and others,
that evidently used the turtle as a living raft, on
which to cruise about, ere the remorseless cook,
armed with knife, axe,  and   saw, hewed   and
hacked the monster, I could have devoted days
to examine, into junks for the pot.    The harvest
gleaned from his shell ■ I shall speak of in the
chapter on Fishes.
All our fresh provisions had long been expended, and water reduced to a very small supply
per diem, when on the 11th of July, the seventieth
day at sea, ' land on the starboard bow' was an
vol. 1 D
; lly I
announcement welcome to all.   Being near dark,
it was deemed advisable to stand off until morning, and enter the Straits of Juan de Feuca with
a good light. It appeared a longer night than
I ever remember, so impatient, was I once more
to see and tread on terra firma; what in the
mist and distance seemed but a dark undefined
shadow, was in reality the lighthouse, standing
grey and lonely on the wild wave-lashed rocks
of Cape Flattery. The wind was dead aft, and
blowing freshly, as we dashed up the straits,
faster far than we had ever gone during the long
tedious voyage.
Nowhere is this curious inlet more than twelve
miles in width: on the right, seen over an ocean
of dark-green forest, sloping to the shore, were
the snowy summits of the Olympian range of
mountains; on the left the more rounded and
lower metamorphic hills, quite as densely timbered, but broken along the coast-line into open
glades and grassy slopes, like well-kept lawns,
reaching to the water-line. About sixty miles
from the entrance we round the dreaded ' race
rocks,' and with scarce time for even a hasty
look at the new land, glide round a rocky point,
on which is a house, and people anxiously watching our movements.    The sails are clewed up; THE VOYAGE.
orders are. rapidly given, and as quickly executed. A heavy plunging splash and the rattle
of the massive cable, as it crashes through the
hawse-holes, proclaim our anchorage in Esqui-
malt Harbour, and safe arrival at Vancouver
D  2 36
111. IK!
We were landed, soon after our arrival, on a rocky
point of land with a snug sheltered bay on each
side; an easy slope led up to the frame of a house,
destined to be our headquarters; a pretty spot,
very EngHshlike in its general features, but in
the rough clothing of uncultivated nature. Tents
© o
were pitched, the baggage carried safely up and
stowed away, and the first camp of the Boundary
Commission established in this new land of
Our first walk to Victoria, now the thriving
capital of Vancouver Island, was made on the
evening of our landing. The gold-fever was
just beginning to rage fast and furiously, and
all classes, from every country, were pouring in
—a very torrent of gold-hunters. Not that gold-
hunter means only he that digs and washes the
yellow ore from out Nature's treasury, but includes a herd of parasites, that sap the gains of
the honest digger; tempting him to gamble, drink
poison (miscalled whisky), and purchase trashy
trumpery, made, like Pindar's razors, only to sell;
and thus fool away his wealth; ' earned like a
horse, squandered like an ass!' Both species were
well represented, in what could not, in any sense
of the word, as yet be called a town.
The old trading-post of the Hudson's Bay Company, the governor's house, and a few scattered
residences of the chief traders and other employes
of the Company, alone represented the permanent dwellings. But in all directions were
canvas tents, from the white strip stretched
over a ridge-pole, and pegged to the ground
(affording just room enough for two to crawl in
and sleep), to, the great canvas store, a blaze of
light, redolent of cigars, smashes, cobblers, and
cocktails. The rattle of the dice-box, the droning invitation of the keepers of the monte-tables,
the discordant sounds of badly-played instruments, angr y words, oaths too terrible to name,
roystering songs with noisy refrains, were all
signs significant of the golden talisman that
met me on every side, as I elbowed my way
amidst the unkempt throng, that were awaiting
means of conveyance to take them to the auriferous bars of the far-famed Fraser river. Along
the side of the harbour, wherever advantageous
\  I
\rJ I'l
water-sites were obtainable, the noise of busy industry sounded pleasantly in contrast to the
mingled hubbub I had just left. Higher up the
slope, substantial stores were being rapidly built.
Out of these germs grew the present town the
capital of the island, that we shall often have to
visit in the course of this narrative.
With the island, and its history as a colony, I
have but little to do. Other and more able
writers have said all that need or can be told
about its commerce, agriculture, politics, and
progress. The prairie, forest, lake, river, sea,
estuary, and rocky inlet are my domains; to
their tenants I have to introduce you, guide
you to their homes and haunts, and bring you
face to face, in imagination, with the zoological
colony of the Far North-west.
First, of the island. Vancouver Island is situated between the parallels of 48° 20" and 51°
N. lat., and in from 123° to 128° W. long—its
shape, oblong; length, 300 miles; its breadth,
varying at different .points, may be taken at an
average of from 35 to 50 miles. The island may
be characterised as an isolated ridge of mountains, which attain, at their greatest elevation, an
altitude of about 6,000 feet. There are no navigable rivers, but numerous mountain-streams,
that, as a rule, have a rapid descent, and empty
into inlets or arms of the sea, everywhere intersecting the coast-line, east and west of the
watershed.   Lakes, large and small, are common,
from the summit of the hills to the flat gravel
lands near the coast; dense pine-forests clothe
these hills to their very tops. On the open
lands, misnamed prairies, the scrub-oak ( Quercus
garryana) grows so gnarled and contorted that
stock, branch, twig, and even the very leaves
look-as if they suffered from perpetual cramp.
Alder, willow, black birch, and cottonwood fill
the hollows.
The climate of the island is milder and more
equable than it is on the adjoining continent,
and closely approximates to that of Great Britain.
The shortest road to an Englishman's heart,
says the adage, is down his throat; and being a
road a good deal travelled, is it to be wondered
at if fish (especially such, as are welcome travellers down this same ' red lane ') should have
been the first objects of practical Natural History
to which the naturalist, fresh from the ' old country' and seventy-two days' imprisonment on
board-ship, turned his attention? The first fish
I saw and tasted was salmon; and to the Salmon
and its haunts I at once introduce you. 40
Richardson, F.B. A., 'Fishes,' p. 219 ; Common
Salmon, Lewis and Clark. Indian Names: at
Chinook Point, mouth of the Columbia, Quinnat;
at the Kettle Falls, See-met-leek; by the Nes-
quallys, Satsup.
Specific Characters.—Head, just one-fourth
of the entire length, measured from the tip of the
nose to where the scales terminate at the tail;
the operculum very much rounded, and usually
with several spiny projections on the outer margin ; preoperculum rounded much the same, but
wanting the serrated margin; branchial rays,
fourteen. Cleft of the mouth posterior to the eye,
which is a dark copper-colour in the freshly-caught
fish. The teeth are large and strong in both
jaws, but they vary in number according to the
age, sex, and condition of the salmon; about ten
in each limb of the jaws may be taken as the usual
average in an adult fish. Those on the tongue
are smaller, and placed in two rows, six in each
row. The vomerine and palatine teeth are a£ain
much smaller and weaker than any of the others,
corresponding to such as stud the gullet.
Fresh from the water, the colours in a healthy
fish are particularly marked and bright, but
change rapidly after death.    The back, through SALMON.
its entire length, is a light steel-blue; shading
off on the sides to a lighter tint, that merges by
imperceptible gradations through grey to silvery-
white on the belly; blushed over with pink, that
disappears soon after death. Back, above the
well-defined lateral line, thickly spotted with
black, the spots being like stars with rays of
irregular length; but I have very often seen the
spots extending beyond the lateral line, and even
on the white of the belly. Opercula, all the fins
and the tail more or less spotted, and of a pinkish
hue, the anal and pectoral fins tipped with
black. The general appearance of this salmon is
that of being very thick for its length, the dorsal
outline slightly arched, forming almost a notch
with the tail.
Soon after our commencing work, I was encamped for many months on the banks of the
Chilukweyuk river, a tributary to the Fraser,
having a short but rapid course through a rocky
In June and July salmon ascend this stream
in incredible numbers, filing off as they work
upcurrent into every rivulet, filling even pools
left on the prairies and flats by the receding
1 42
About a mile from my camp was a large patch
of pebbly ground, dry even at the highest
floods, through which a shallow stream found its
way into the larger river. Though barely of
sufficient depth to cover an ordinary-sized salmon, yet I have seen that stream so filled, that
fish pushed one another out of the water high-
and-dry upon the pebbles. Each, with its head
up-stream, struggled, fought, and scuffled for
precedence. With one's hands only, or, more
easily, by employing a gaff or a crook-stick,
tons of salmon could have been procured by the
simple process of hooking them out.
It seems to me that thousands of the salmon
ascending these small mountain-streams never
can spawn from sheer want of room, or, if they
do, it must be under most unfavourable circumstances. At the end of the pebble-stream was a
waterfall, beyond which no fish could by any
possibility pass. Having arrived at this barrier
to all farther progress, there they obstinately
remained. Weeks were spent in watching them,
but I never, in a single instance, saw one turn
back and endeavour to seek a more congenial
watercourse; but, crowded from behind by
fresh arrivals, they died by the score, and, drifting slowly along, in time reached the.larger SALMON
stream. It was a strange and novel sight to
see three moving lines of fish—the dead and
dying in the eddies and slack-water along the
banks, the living, breasting the current in the
centre, blindly pressing on to perish like their
Even in streams where a successful deposition
t)f the ova has been accomplished, there never
appears, as far as my observations have gone, any
disposition in the parent-fish to return to the sea.
Their instinct still prompts them to keep swimming up-stream, until you often find them with
their noses worn quite off, their heads bruised
and battered, fins and tail ragged and torn,
bodies emaciated, thin, and flabby; the bright
silvery tints dull and leaden in hue, a livid red
streak extending along each side from head to
tail, in which large ulcerous sores have eaten
into the very vitals.
The Indians say all the salmon that come up
to spawn die; but if all do not die, I have no
hesitation in saying that very few spring-salmon
ever reach the saltwater after ascending the
rivers to spawn. Why there should be this
marvellous waste of salmon in the rivers of the
North-west I am somewhat puzzled to imagine.
The distance the fish have to travel from the sea
Att 44
up-stream, or the obstacles they may have to
overcome, have clearly nothing to do with their
dying. In the Chilukweyuk river the distance
from the sea is not over 200 miles, and that
clear from any kind of hindrance; and yet they
die in thousands. In the Columbia they ascend
a thousand miles to the Kettle Falls, and they
have been caught many hundred miles above
that; still they die just the same as in the
shorter streams. Up the Snake river they push
their way to the great Shoshonee Falls, over a
thousand miles against a rocky stream, but perish
there just as they do in the Sumass and Chilukweyuk rivers, which are close to the sea.
Unlike the salmon in our own streams, the
spring-salmon in North-western waters spawn in
midsummer, when the water is at its lowest temperature and greatest flood-height, from the melting snow. As there is no impediment or hindrance
to prevent them returning to the sea, why do they
die in N.W. waters ? In my opinion, from sheer
starvation. Careful observations, made at various
Indian fishing-stations and extending over a long
space of time, have quite convinced me that
salmon (I more particularly allude to the spring-
fish) never feed after leaving saltwater. My
reasons for thus thinking are, first, no salmon
I i a I
(as far as I know) has ever been tempted to take
a bait of any kind in the fresh water above the
tideway. The Indians all say that salmon never
eat when in the rivers; and I could never discover that they had any recorded instance, or
even tradition, of a salmon being taken with
I tried every lure I could think of, to tempt
these lordly salmon. The most killing salmon-
flies of Scotch, Irish, and English ties, thrown in
the most approved fashion, were trailed close to
their noses; such flies as would have coaxed
any old experienced salmon in the civilised
world of waters to forget his caution. Hooks,
cunningly baited with live fish, aquatic larvae,
and winged insects, were scorned, and not even
honoured with a sniff. Others of the Commission also tried their powers of fascination,
but with equally unsuccessful results.
I have opened a very large number of salmon
at various Indian fishing-stations, on their
first arrival, and during every stage of their
wasting vitality, and after death had ended their
suffering's; and not in a solitary instance did I
ever discover the trace of food in the stomach or
intestinal canal. But in every case where a
salmon was taken in the tideway or saltwater^
*SS 46
I invariably found the remains of small fish
and marine animals in its stomach; and in
the estuaries and long inland canals that so
strangely intersect the coast-line of British Columbia, salmon are readily and easily caught
with hook and line; clearly showing to my mind,
that whilst in salt and brackish water the
North-western spring-salmon feed and fatten,
but, after quitting their ocean-haunts for the cold
fresh-water, they starve, waste, and die, as a
lamp goes out from sheer want of oil. Surely,
where hundreds of salmon are split in a day,
as at the Kettle Falls, it is fair to assume
that if they took any food, by chance a fish
would be caught immediately after its meal,
with enough evidence in the stomach to prove
the fact of having broken its fast; but such
proof is never discoverable. Digestion would
scarcely be more rapid in the rivers than it is
in the ocean and estuary, where we know they
eat. Open a salmon and examine its stomach
at any time, caught either in nets or with hook
and line, and food in various stages of digestion
will be invariably found.
Another proof that they undergo a rigid and
persistent lent is found in the rapid wasting of
all the tissues that goes on during their sojourn SALMON.
in fresh-water. Allowing for the consumption
of material requisite for the purposes of reproduction, and the wear-and-tear consequent on
making their way up stiff currents, leaping
falls, and laboriously toiling up rocky canions—
still I contend, if only a partial equivalent was
resupplied in the shape of food, waste would not
go on to the actual death of the muscles, that
slough away in large pieces, as the exhausted
fish makes feeble efforts to struggle on; dying
at last a loathsome mass of rotting animal
Sores, in both male and female fish, often arise
from injuries inflicted by the teeth of a jealous
adversary ; but these wounds are utterly different from the sloughing' ulcer, arising, as I believe, from sheer lack of vital force. These
salmon veritably consume themselves, and perish,
when life's stove bums out, for want of fuel to
keep it alight.
In August the Chilukweyuk river became perfectly unendurable from the quantities of dead fish
floating down. I had with me a splendid retriever,
that, to my disgust and annoyance, used to amuse
himself, during my absence from the tent, by
swimming in after the floating salmon, bringing them ashore, and safely storing them in my
i 48
canvas dwelling; and on my return I used to discover a heap of fish, the stench from which was
beyond human endurance. If fastened out from
the tent, he piled them up at the door : all the
lessons bestowed on him failed to convince him
of his folly; he stuck to his disagreeable habit
with a perseverance worthy of a better cause.
Arriving a little later than the preceding, is a
smaller fish, which I believe to be the Salmo
paucidens (Weak-Toothed Salmon) of Sir J. Richardson, F. B. A., p. 223; the red charr of Lewis
and Clark, but the red they allude to is a colour
every one of the different species acquire after
being a short time in the rivers.
This fish seldom attains a weight over from
three to five pounds, and is called by the Indians, at the salmon-leap at Colville on the Columbia, stzoin ; it is a very handsome fish, back
nearly straight, a light sea-greenish colour; sides
and belly silvery-white, tail very forked, fins
and tail devoid of any spots ; the teeth are wide
apart, and not strongly implanted. I was disposed at first to think they were the young of
some other species; but the Indians are positive they are not, and they spawn much as
the others do. In a small stream or tributary
to the Chilukweyuk river, a mountain-torrent \
on the west side of the Cascades flowing into the
Fraser, on the banks of which I was for a long
time encamped, and up which the salmon come
in great numbers, I amused myself watching
this species of salmon (Salmo paucidens) deposit their spawn. It was in August, the water
clear as crystal, the bottom a fine brown
gravel. A trench, that looked about three or
four inches deep and three feet long, was
muzzled out by the noses of the females. A
female fish poised herself over the trench, head
up-stream, and by a rapid vibration of her
fins kept herself nearly still; this lasted about
a minute and a half or two minutes, during
which time a quantity of ova were deposited.
She then darted off like an arrow; four males
at once took her place over the spawn-bed, and
remained, just as the female had done, about
two minutes. On their leaving two females
came, and were followed by the males, as before.
The water was about four feet deep. I am
quite sure, from often watching these streams,
that one spawning-bed is used by a great many
males and females: it was both curious and interesting to watch the extreme regularity with
which the sexes succeeded each other.
The question as to what becomes of the young
VOL. I. e 50
salmon after leaving the egg, is a query more
easily asked than answered.    There are no snug
breeding-ponds,   no   cosy little  aquariums   or
water-nurseries, where the baby-salmon may be
watched and  carefully tended until, honoured
with a badge, it is sent away to travel through
pelagic   meadows,  deep-sea forests,  and   ocean
gardens, where, growing rapidly, bigger if not
wiser, it returns to tell how long it has been
away,   and how rapidly  it  has   grown.     As-.
sistance such as this falls not to the lot of the
hunter-naturalist, who with prying  eye  peers,
searches, and grubs about on the banks and into
the depths of the lakes and mountain-torrents,
in   this  far-western wilderness.     Had  he  the
eyes of Argus,  he could  only register a few
hasty observations, and generalise on their value:
he has no opportunities for investigations, such
as they have, who at home can watch the egg in
their very parlours, gradually shaping itself into
the quaint little salmon; see it come from out
the egg-case with its  haversack of provender,
wonderfully provided to supply its wants, until
able to live by its own teeth and industry; track
its growth and habits through its youthful days;
then, marking it with a leaden medal, send it off
to sea, to welcome it back after its wanderings a
full-grown salmon. SALMON. 51
It may be that Creative wisdom has implanted the same instinct in the North-western
salmon, prompting it to obey similar laws, and
follow the same routine as to the exodus seaward, and return to fresh-water, as directs it in
our native streams: my own impression is, that
the fish spawned in midsummer or autumn remain up in the lakes and deep still river-pools
until the following summer freshets, when they
take their departure for the sea as the fresh-run
salmon come. I think so, because in the Sumass
and Chilukweyuk lakes, already spoken of; along
the banks of the Fraser river, and in the Osoyoos
lakes and tributaries to the Columbia river, I
have in September and October observed large
shoals of what I believed to be young salmon,
that disappear when the snow begins to melt
during June and July in the following summer.
I suspect the first flood carries them down and
out to sea; but, after all, this is but surmise,
and of little practical value.
I never caught salmon-fry whilst fishing for
trout, as we could so easily do in our streams; and
it is just possible that the rapid rise (unlike anything we know of in our streams) that takes place
in every river, brook, and rivulet during midsummer, when the snow melts on the hills, reducing
E 2
J «2
the temperature of the water down to freezing-
point, may send the young salmon-fry into the
saltwater at a very early period of its life. ' At
three days old he is nearly two grains in weight; at
16 months old he has increased to two ounces, or
480 times its first weight; at 20 months old, after
the smolt has been a few months in the sea, it
becomes a grilse of 8^ lbs., having increased 68
times in three or four months; at 2f^ years old it
becomes a salmon of from 12 to 15 lbs. weight,
after which its increased rate of growth has not
been ascertained; butbythetimeitbecomes301bs.
in weight, it has increased 115,200 times the
weight it was at first." * These smolts that I have
seen in shoals were about half an ounce in weight,
the produce of the summer's spawning. As I
have stated, they disappear when the floods set
in; and nothing more is seen of them until they
return salmon of various sizes, from 2 lbs. to
75 lbs., or, as I believe, the Quinnat and Stzoin.
The next salmon in importance, as affording
food to the Indians, is called by them at the Kettle
Falls cha-cha-lool, and arrives with the quinnat.
This is unquestionably a fully-matured fish,
and a distinct species, answering in many par-
* Buckland's Manual, { Salmon Hatching,' page 24. SALMON.
ticulars to the Salmo Gairdneri of Sir J. Richardson, F. B. A., 'Fishes,' p. 221; it will be as
well to retain that name. It may be readily distinguished from the quinnat by its rounded blunt-
looking nose, shorter and much thicker head,
straighter back, and more slender figure—the tail
not nearly as much forked. The entire colour of
the back is much lighter, and thickly freckled,
as are the fins and tail, with oval black spots.
The average weight of the cha-cha-lool is from
8 to 11 lbs. This salmon is common in the Fraser,
Chilukweyuk, and Sumass rivers, and in every
stream along the mainland and island coasts up
which salmon ascend. When they first arrive
the flesh is most delicious—fat, pink, and firm
withal, and to my palate finer than that of the
mammoth quinnat. The Indians also prize
these salmon, and pack them when dried in bales
apart from the others.
Salmo Gairdneri and S. quinnat are the spring
salmon, but the autumn has also its supply of
I swimming silver,' quite equal to that of spring
in point of numbers, but inferior in quality.
Up the Columbia in October to the Kettle Falls,
and somewhat earlier in the Fraser and rivers
north. of it, comes an ugly, unprepossessing,
hook-nosed,  dingy-looking   salmon,   called   by 54
the Colville Indians Keasoo, by the Chinook^
Ehewan, by the Clallams Kutch-kutch — the
Hooked Snout of the fur-traders, Salmo lycaodon
of Pallas, Zoog. Buss. Asiat.
When fresh-run, this fish in colour is of a
silvery-grey lustre ; back, overshot with a
greenish hue; belly, silvery-white; no spots
on either the back or sides. The hooked nose,
said to be peculiar to the male fish after
spawning, is a well-marked, constant, and specific character in every fresh-run fish, the females
having at all times symmetrical jaws. I found,
from carefully observing great numbers of these
fresh-run males, that the hooked state of the snout
differs very materially in fish arriving at the same
period; and I am quite convinced that large numbers of these salmon do get back again to the
saltwater after spawning, and that the strange
change that takes place in the hooking over of
the snout and growth of the teeth, during their
sojourn in the rivers, remains a permanent mark;
and the vast difference observable in the males,
at the time of arrival, is simply attributable to
the fact, that those having the large fanglike
teeth and tremendously crooked snout are such
as have been up the rivers perhaps the year before,
or, it may be, long prior to that period. SALMON.
In every stream and rill, where they can by
any possibility work a passage, you find these
salmon; they remain until January and February in the succeeding year, becoming fearfully
emaciated and worn, from a long and tedious
abstinence; for I believe these salmon feed
sparely, if at all, after leaving the sea. The
fish in January is of a pale dirty-yellow colour;
the sides, showing a bright purplish stripe
(sure sign of waning vitality), are flattened
and compressed; the back is straight until
near its posterior third, when it dips down suddenly, and rises again at the tail just as if you
had cut a notch out. The belly, instead of being
silvery-white, is rusty yellow, and hangs pendulous and flabby; the eye is dull and sunken.
But the most curious change is in the head
of the male fish : the nose becomes enormously
elongated, and hooks down like a gaff-hook
over the under-jaw, and the under-jaw bends
up at the point into a kind of spike that fits
into a regular sheath or hole in the upper jaw,
just where it begins bending into the hooklike point; the teeth become regular fangs, sticking out round the jaws at irregular distances,
and having a yellow bonelike appearance. I
have often seen the teeth more than half an inch
 —^^, 56
in length.     It  is  quite  clear that these teeth
grow during the time the fish remain in fresh-
© ©
water; no shrinking of the gums could account
for such a length of tooth ; and their use, I believe, is for fighting.
My own observations lead me to assume that
at least there are eight or ten males to every
female; and as one spawning-bed is used by
many females, terrible battles ensue between the
males as to which shall impregnate the ova;
and it would appear, reasoning from analogy,
that the same law holds good with fish as with
gregarious mammals and birds—the stronger and
more able male always begets the offspring. I
hardly think the ova of a female fresh-run salmon, impregnated by the milt of an old and
spent male fish, would produce as strong and
healthy an offspring as the male fat, fresh,
vigorous, and healthy. I cannot help thinking
there must have been some purpose—as antlers
are" given to the deer tribes, spurs to the males
of gregarious birds, and like examples—in giving
such formidable weapons to these salmon during
their breeding-time; and why not the reason
above stated?
Quoting from Dr. Scouler: ' Observatory Inlet
(which I should imagine to be just such an inlet
as Puget's Sound) was frequented at the time by
such myriads of the salmon, that a stone could
not have reached the bottom without touching
several individuals—their abundance surpassing
imagination to conceive.' He goes on to say,
that in a little brook they killed sixty with their
boarding-pikes. Then, he says, the hump before
the dorsal fin consists of fat, and appears to
be peculiar to the males, who acquire it after
spawning-time, when their snouts become elongated and arched.
The Fall-salmon (Salmo lycaodon) differ most
extraordinarily at different periods of their
growth—so much so, that I quite believed the
adult, middle-aged, and young were three distinct and well-marked species; but Dr. A. Giin-
ther has very kindly investigated the matter,
and knocked my three species into one.
Indians take the young of this salmon in large
numbers in the bays, harbours, and fiord-bike
inlets surrounding the island, and along the
British Columbian and Oregon coasts ; also in the
Sumass, Chilukweyuk, and Sweltza rivers, and indeed in all inland lakes that are accessible to fish
from the sea. These handsome, troutlike young
salmon are easily caught with bait of any kind;
they rise readily to a gaudy fly, and seize even 58
a piece of their brethren if carefully tied round
a hook; from six ounces to a pound is about
the average size. When they go to sea again
from the lakes I had no opportunity of proving,
but I imagine they go down with the floods, as
jc   the spring salmon come up.
The second form in which I mistook it for
a distinct species is that of the Humpbacked
Salmon (Salmo prot'eus, Pallas; Salmo gibber,
Suckley; l gerbuscha,' Kamtschatka; ' hud-do' of
the Nesqually Indians ; 'hun-num' of the Fraser
river Indians). In its general outline it differs
altogether from the Hook-nosed Salmon. The back
is much more arched; nose curved, but not nearly
as much as in the mature Salmo lycaodon, and the
under-jaw turns up and terminates in a protuberance or knob; teeth much more numerous,
sharper, and smaller; tail deeply notched, and
thickly spotted with dark oval-shaped marks.
The most conspicuous feature is a large hump
of adipose material situated on the shoulders, a
little anterior to the dorsal fin, and only found
in the male fish. It has generally been stated
that this hump grows upon the male fish after
entering the fresh-water: this is a mistake,
for I have seen them again and again taken in
the sea, before going up into the rivers, with SALMON.
this hump well developed. On cutting it open,
it appears to be a sort of cellular membrane,
filled with an oily, semifluid kind of material.
The use of this deposit, there can be no doubt,
is to supply the male with this material in
some mysterious way during the spawning-
time, for, after that period has passed, the hump
entirely disappears. They arrive about the same
time as the older fish, but only in very large
runs every second year—have the same range,
and die in thousands.
At Fort Hope, on the Fraser river, in the
month of September, I was going trout-fishing
in a beautiful  stream,   the  Qua-que-alla,  that
comes thundering and dancing down the Cas-
© ©
..cade Mountains, cold and clear as crystal;
-these salmon were then toiling up in thousands,
and were so thick in the ford that I had
great trouble to ride my horse through; the
salmon were in such numbers about his legs as to
impede his progress, and frightened him so, that
he plunged viciously and very nearly had me off.
They are never at any time good eating; the
flesh, in fresh-run fish, is white, soft, and tasteless. The Indians only eat them when they are
unable to obtain anything else. These salmon
work up to the very heads of the tributaries, and 60
I have often seen them where the water was so
shallow as to leave their backs uncovered.
The Salmo canis of Suckley (Dog-Salmon,
Spotted Salmon, ' Natural History of Washington Territory,' p. 341), which he says arrives at
Puget's Sound in September and October, I believe to be only the old males of the Salmo lycao-
don (Hook-nosed Salmon), that have had a turn
in the rivers perhaps a year or two before, and
have got safely back again to the sea, recruited
their wasted energies, and returned again for
another perilous cruise up the streams. The
large fanglike teeth, from which they derive the
name of dog-salmon, are the large teeth grown
and developed, as I have previously described
them, whilst spawning in the fresh water.
Salmon is of the most vital importance to the
Indians; deprived or by any means cut off from
obtaining it, starve to death they must; and
were we at war with the Redskins, we need only
cut them off from their salmon-fisheries to have
them completely at our mercy. If salmon-fisheries—well managed, and conducted by persons
who thoroughly understood salting, barreling,
and curing salmon—were established on some of
the tributaries to. the Fraser and Columbia rivers,
I am quite convinced they would pay handsomely. SALMON.
Some few attempts have been made by speculators, but always failed for want of capital and
proper management. The Hudson's Bay Company, in some of their inland and northern
posts, feed their employes on dried salmon during
the winter. At Fort Langley, on the Fraser
river, the Company generally salt in several
hundred casks of salmon, and these principally
go to the Sandwich Islands or to China. There
was one large salmon-curing establishment at the
mouth of the Puyallup river, but I have been
told it did not pay; the fish, being badly put up
and carelessly packed, often spoiled before reaching the markets for which they were destined.
In Victoria, salmon is now a very important
article both of food and commerce.
11 The systems adopted by the Indians for capturing salmon vary in accordance with the localities
chosen for fishing. Besides the stages or baskets
in use on the Columbia river, they construct weirs
reaching from one side of a stream to the other,
with skilfully-contrived openings, allowing fish
to pass easily through them into large lateral
stores made of closely-woven wicker, where they
are kept prisoners until required.
They have rather a clever contrivance for
catching salmon in the bays and harbours,
using a sort of gill-net (a net about forty feet
long and eight feet wide), with large meshes ;
the upper edge is buoyed by bits of dry cedar-
wood, that act as floats, and the net kept tight
by small* #pebbles slung at four-foot distances
along the lower margin. This kind of net the
Indians stretch across the mouth of a small bay
or inlet, and sit in their canoes a short distance SALMON.
off, quietly watching it. These small bays, or
saltwater aquariums, are the lurking-places and
strongholds for shoals of anchovies and herrings.
Often tempted to wander and make excursions
beyond the gateway of their rocky home, they
are at once spied by predatory piratical salmon;
seeking safety in flight, they dash headlong for
their hiding-place, hotly pursued by their
dreaded foe, and shooting easily through the
cordy snare, laugh to see Master Salmon 'run
his head into the net;' bob-bob go the floats
beneath the surface, up paddles redskin, hauls
up his net, clutches the silvery pirate, and with
a short heavy club gives him a blow on the
head, drops him into the canoe, lets go his net,
and waits for the next.
With this kind of net immense numbers of
spring and fall salmon are taken. All their nets
are made of cord, spun from native hemp, that
grows abundantly along the banks of the Fraser
and other streams. Squaws gather the plant
about a week before the flowering-time ; first
soak, then beat it into fibre; this, arranged in
regular lengths, is handed to the Indian, who,
seated on the ground, twists the bundles of
tiffled hemp into cord—a cord as regular and
symmetrical  as  the handiwork of a  practised
ii 64
ropemaker—using neither tools nor machinery,
but simply the hand and naked thigh.
The first salmon entering the Columbia are
taken at Chinook Point, a short distance above
Cape Disappointment,  near the mouth of  the
river.    These are known as ' Chinook salmon,'
and are celebrated, not only in the immediate
neighbourhood   but   in   the   markets   of   San
Francisco,  as  the   fattest  and   finest-flavoured
salmon  taken  on  the  coast;   they   are  large,
ranging from 351bs. to 701bs. in weight.
©   © ©
In June the grand army arrives. We need
not linger at the old fishery of the Chinook
Indians, so prosperous fifty years ago. The
Indians have disappeared; but the salmon army
marches on, with little interruption, until they
have arrived at the Cascades.
Here we must remain awhile, and see for
ourselves how the red man harvests his salmon.
Salmon is quite as essential to the Indians
residing inland as grain to us, or bananas and
plantains to the residents in the tropics: gleaning
the regular supply of fish, the Indian literally
harvests and garners it as we reap our grain-crops.
It cannot be by mere chance that fish are
prompted, by an unalterable instinct, to thread
their way into the farthest recesses of the moun- SALMON.
tains—fish too that are fat and oily, and best
adapted to supply heat and the elements of nutrition.
The winters are long and intensely cold, often
30° Fahr. below zero, the snow lying deep for at
least six months. Birds migrate, most of the
rodents and the bears hybernate, and such animals
as remain to brave the biting cold, retire where
it is very difficult and often impossible to hunt
or trap them. ,In a small lodge, made of
hides or rushes, as far from windproof as a sieve
would be; wrapped in miserable mantles (simply
skins sewn together, or ragged blankets, bought"
of the Hudson's Bay Company), cowering and
shivering over the smouldering logs, are a family
of savages. The nipping blasts and icy cold forbid
their venturing in pursuit of food; flesh they
could not cure during the summer, for they
have not salt, and sun-drying is insufficient to
preserve it. A miserable death, starved alike by
cold and hunger, must be the fate of this, and of
all Indian families away from the seaboard, but
for salmon: sun-dried, it preserves its heat and
flesh-yielding qualities unimpaired; uncooked,
they chew it all day long, and frequently
grow fat during their quasi-hybernation. The
waterways   are   thus   made   available  for  the
VOL. I. F 66
transport of coals and provisions necessary to
keep the life-stove burning, floated free of freight
up to the very doors of the Indian's wigwam.
The way he harvests this store, and preserves
it for winter use, we shall see as we follow the
course of the salmon in their ascent of the
Columbia river.
The Cascades, where the salmon first meet
with a hindrance to their upward course, is a
lovely spot. The vast river here breaks its way
through the Cascade Mountains, a mountain-gap
unequalled, I should say, in depth and extent,
by any in the world. Some parts are massive
walls of rock, and others wooded slopes like to
a narrow valley. One can hardly imagine the
possibility of so great a change in climate, and
consequently vegetation, as there is betwixt
this place and the Dalles, only a few miles,
farther up the river. I have left the Dalles
when the ground was covered with snow, and
within a distance of forty miles entered this gap,
and found the climate to be that of summer^
The sloping forests brightly green, shrubs of
various sorts, tropical in appearance, immense
ferns, the emerald moss clothing the rocks, over
which dozens of waterfalls, unbroken for a thou-?
sand feet, tumble from the hills into the river I
—all together make up a scene of beauty and
rich luxuriance, unlike any other part of the
From the Dalles to the Cascades the river has
scarcely a perceptible current, either side being
bounded by perpendicular walls of mountains.
Tradition says, that once the river had a uniformly
swift course the entire way, and that where the
Cascades now are, the water passed at that time
under a huge arch that reached from side to
side. Afterwards an earthquake tumbled it
down, the ruins of the arch still existing as a
chain of islands across the head of the rapids;
the river, having gradually carried away the
fragments, forming now the long rapid. The
river, thus suddenly thrown back, flooded the
forests up to the Dalles, and to this day stumps
of trees are to be seen sticking out of the water
many hundred yards from the shore.
Below the Cascades, before reaching the flat
district about Fort Vancouver, the scenery is
bold and massive; immense hills densely wooded,
bold promontories, and grassy glades are passed
successively as the steamer dashes on her downward trip. At the Cascades there is now a
railway, over which goods and passengers are
conveyed to the steamers above the rapids, which
p 2 68
are so swift that canoes plied by experienced
Indians dare not venture to run them.
Wandering along by this foaming rush of
water, one sees numberless scaffoldings erected
amongst the boulders—rude clumsv contrivances,
constructed of poles jammed between large stones,
and lashed with ropes of bark to other poles,
that cross each other to form stages. Indian
lodges, pitched in the most picturesque and lovely
spots imaginable, are dotted along from one end
of the rapids to the other. Indians from long
distances and of several tribes have come here to
await the arrival of the salmon.
Leaning against the trees, or supported by the
lodges, are numbers of small round nets (like we
catch shrimps with in rocky pools), fastened to
handles forty and fifty feet in length. Hollow
places are cunningly enclosed, with low walls
of boulders, on the river-side of each stage.
It is early in June; the salmon have arrived,
and a busy scene it is. On every stage plying
their nets are Indian fishers, guiltless of garments
save a piece of cloth tied round the waist.
Ascending the rapids, salmon seek the slack-
waters at the edges of the current, and are
fond of lingering in the wake of a rock or any
convenient hollow; the rock-basins constructed SALMON.
by the sides of the stages are just the places for
idling and resting. This the crafty fisher turns to
good account, and skilfully catches the loiterer by
plunging his net into the pool at its head, and
letting the current sweep it down, thus hooping
salmon after salmon, with a certainty astounding
to a looker-on. Thirty salmon an hour is not an
unusual take for two skilled Indians to land on a
stage. As soon as one gets tired, another takes
his place, so that the nets are never idle during
the 'run.'
The instant a fish reaches the stage, a heavy
blow on the head stops its flapping; boys and
girls are waiting to seize and carry it ashore, to
be split and cured—a process I can better describe
when at the salmon-falls. As there is at the Cascades simply hindrance tq the salmon's ascent, of
course vast numbers escape the redskins' nets.
Forty miles above this fishery is another obstruction, the Dalles; where the river forces its
way through a mass of basaltic rocks in numerous channels, some of them appearing as if
hewn by human hands. Another portage has to
be made here, a neat little town having grown
up in consequence of the transhipment. The
journey from steamer to steamer is accomplished
in stages, the heavy goods being hauled by mule
;f f
1 70
and ox-teams.    The road lies over a steep ridge
of hills to the junction of the Des Chutes, or ' Fall
river,' with the Columbia.    Fishing at the Dalles
is much the same as at the Cascades.
Great numbers of salmon turn off and ascend
the Snake river, to be captured at the Great Sho-
shonee Falls by the Snake and Bannock Indians.
We follow on the vanguard of the swimming
© ©
army, passing numberless tributaries, up which
detachments make their way, right and left, into
the heart of the country—supplies for tribes living
near the different streams—to the great falls of
the Columbia, the ' Kettle Falls ;'* why so named
is not very clear. These falls, except when the
river is at its highest flood, form an impassable
barrier to the salmon's progress; the distance from
the sea is about 700 miles, and the first arrivals
are usually about the middle of June.
The winter-quarters of the Boundary Commission were about two miles above the falls,
and close to the falls is a trading-post of the
Hudson's Bay Company, Fort Colville. The
gravelly plateau on which the trading-post stands,
together with one or two houses belonging to old
employes, was clearly once a lake-bottom. The
water at some remote period filling the lake ap-
*   Vide Illustration. SALMON.
pears to have broken its way out through the
rocks at the falls, and left this flat dry land.
Patches of wheat and barley are grown, but the soil
is far too poor to repay the labour of cultivation.
About three weeks preceding the arrival of
the salmon, Indians begin to assemble from all
directions. Cavalcades may be seen, day after
day, winding their way down the plain.; and as
the savage when he travels takes with him all
his worldly wealth—wives, children, dogs, horses,
lodges, weapons, and skins—:the turn-out is rather
noveL The smaller children are packed with the
baggage on the backs of horses, which are driven
by the squaws, who always ride astride like the
men. The elder girls and boys, three or four on
a horse, ride with their mothers, whilst the men
and stouter youths drive the bands of horses
that run loose ahead of the procession. A pack
of prick-eared curs, simply tamed prairie-wolves,
are always in attendance.
A level piece of ground overlooking the falls
(the descent from which to the rocks is by a zigzag path, down a nearly vertical cliff) is rapidly
covered with lodges of all shapes and sizes. The
squaws do the work appertaining to camping,
and are literally 'hewers of wood and drawers of
water.'    The men, who are all, when at the fish-
•' 72
ery, under one chief, whom they designate the
' Salmon Chief,' at once commence work—some in
repairing the drying-sheds, which are placed on
the rocks (as are also numbers of lodges) at the
foot of the zigzag; others are busy making or
mending immense wicker hampers, about thirty
feet in circumference, and twelve feet in depth.
Little  groups  are  dragging  down  huge   trees
©        Jr ©o     © ©
lopped clear of their branches—rolling, twisting,
and tumbling them over the rocks, to be fixed at
last by massive boulders, the ends hanging over
the foaming water not unlike so many gibbets.
These trees being secure and in their right places,
the next work is to hang the wicker baskets
to them, which is a risky and most difficult
job: but many willing hands and long experience work wonders; with strong ropes of
twisted bark, the baskets are at last securely
suspended. By this time the river begins to flood
rapidly, and soon washes over the rocks where
the trees are fastened, and into the basket, which
is soon in the midst of the waterfall, being so
contrived as to be easily accessible from the
rocks not overwashed by the flood.
Whilst awaiting the coming salmon, the
scene is one great revel: horse-racing, gambling,
love-making, dancing, and diversions of all sorts, SALMON.
occupy the singular assembly; for at these
annual gatherings, when all jointly labour in
catching and curing the winter supply of salmon,
feuds and dislikes are for the time laid by, or,
as they figuratively express it, ' The hatchet is
The medicine-men (doctors and conjurors) of
the different tribes busily work their charms and
incantations to insure an abundant run of fish.
One of the illustrations is drawn from a photograph of the falls. The Indians at first steadily
refused to allow the photographer and his machine to come near the falls, declaring it a
box of bad ' medicine' that would surely drive
every salmon away; and not until an old Romish
priest who was at the trading-post explained
it to them, did they permit a photograph to
be taken.
The watchers announce the welcome tidings
of the salmon arrival, and the business begins.
The baskets are hung in places where past
experience has taught the Indians salmon generally leap, in their attempts to clear the falls.
The first few that arrive are frequently speared
from the rocks. They are in such vast numbers
during the height of the 'run,' that one could
not well throw a stone into the water at the
§ I
!   ;
m 74
base of the falls without hitting a fish: fifty and
more may be seen in the air at a time, leaping
over the wicker traps, but, failing to clear the
' salmon-leap,' fall back, and are caged. In
each basket two naked Indians are stationed
all day long; and as they are under a heavy
fall of water, frequent relays are necessary.
Salmon three or four at a time, in rapid succession, tumble into the basket. The Indians
thrust their fingers under the gills, strike the
fish on the head with a heavy club, and then fling
them on the rocks. I have known three hundred
salmon landed from one basket betwixt sunrise
and sunset, varying in weight from twenty to
seventy-five pounds.
From the heaps of -fish piled on the rocks,
boys and girls carry and drag them back to the
squaws seated round the curing-houses; with
sharp knives they rip the salmon open, twist off
the head, and cleverly remove the backbone; then
hanging them on poles, close under the roofs of
sheds the sides of which are open, they dry them
slowly, small fires being kept constantly smouldering on the floors. The smoke serves to keep
away the flies, and perhaps also aids in the preservation of the fish. The only portions eaten by
the Indians during the catching are the heads, SALMON.
backbones, roes, and livers, which are roasted,
skewered on sticks.
When thoroughly dried the fish are packed in
bales made of rush-mats, each bale weighing about
fifty pounds, the bales being tightly lashed with
bark-ropes. Packing in bales of equal weight
facilitates an equitable division of the take.
Horses are purposely brought to carry the fish
back to winter-quarters, and two bales are easily
packed on each horse. The fishing-season lasts
for about two months: then the spoils are
divided, and the place abandoned to its wonted
quietude, until the following summer brings
with it another harvest.
During the drying, silicious sand is blown over
the fish, and of course adheres to it. Constantly
chewing this ' sanded salmon' wears the teeth as
if filed down, which I at first imagined them to be,
until the true cause was discovered. I have an
under-jaw in my possession whereon the teeth
are quite level with the bony sockets of the jaw,
worn away by the flinty sand.
I question if in the world there is another spot
where salmon are in greater abundance, or taken
with so little labour, as at the Kettle Falls, on
the  Columbia river.    In  all streams emptying
into Puget's Sound,  in the Fraser river,  and 76
rivers north of it to the Arctic Ocean, salmon
ascend in prodigious abundance. In the Fraser
there are no obstructions as far as Fort Hope to
the salmon ascent; hence fishing is carried on by
each village or family for themselves, and not by
the combined labour of many, as on the Columbia. Near the mouth of the river large iron gaff-
hooks are generally used; with these ugly weapons
salmon are hooked into the canoes. Higher up,
at the mouths of the Sumass, Chilukweyuk, and
other tributary streams, they use a very ingenious
kind of net worked between two canoes, with
which large numbers of salmon are taken. Stages,
too, are hung over the eddies from the rocks,
and round nets used as at the Cascades.
On the Nanimo river the Indians have a very
ingenious contrivance for taking salmon, by constructing a weir; but, instead of putting baskets,
they pave a square place, about six feet wide and
fourteen feet long, with white or light-coloured
stones. This pavement is always on the lower
side of the weir, leading to an opening. A
stage is erected between two of these paved
ways, where Indians, lying on their stomachs, can
in an instant see if a salmon is traversing the
white paved way. A long spear, barbed at the
end, is held in readiness,  and woe betide the TROUT.
adventurous fish that runs the gauntlet of this
perilous passage!
But the most curious contrivance I saw was
at Johnson's Narrows. I have said salmon readily
take a bait when in saltwater. The Indians when
fishing use two spears, one about seventy feet in
length; the other shorter, having a barbed end, is
about twenty feet long. In a canoe thus equipped,
favourable fishing-grounds are sought, the In-
dian having the long spear being also provided
with a small hollow cone of wood, trimmed round
its greater circumference with small feathers,
much like a shuttlecock; this he places on the
end of the longer spear, and presses it under
water, until down the full length of the handle;
a skilful jerk detaches this conelike affair from
the spear-haft, when it wriggles up through the
water like a straggling fish. The savage with
the short spear intently watches this deceiver; a
salmon runs at it, and it is speared like magic.
Next in importance amongst the Salmonidas
is the Oregon Brook Trout, Fario stellatus (Grd.
Proc. Acad., Phil. Nat. Soc, viii. 219).
Specific Characters.—Head rather large, contained four-and-a-half times in the total length ;
maxillary reaching a vertical line drawn behind
the  orbit.    .Colour  of the  back  bright  olive-
. i
green, sides pinkish-yellow, belly white, profusely
speckled over with minute black spots.
This trout lives everywhere, and is to be met
with in the lakes and rivers in Vancouver Island,
in all streams flowing into Puget's Sound, and
away up the western sides of the Cascades. Crossing to the eastern side, and descending into the
valley of the Columbia, again he puts in an appearance. Climb the western slope of the Rocky
Mountains up to the summit, 7,000 feet above the
sea-level, there too he lives—always hungry and
voracious. These trout are very delicious, varying from eight ounces up to three pounds in
My first exploit in fishing for trout may be
worth relating:—I was sitting on the bank of a
stream that rippled gaily on its rocky course, down
the western slope of the Rocky Mountains; and
which, here and there lengthening out into a long
stickle, and curbing round a jutting rock, lazily
idled by the grassy bank; anon leaping a sudden
fall, and widening into a glassy pool. Butterflies
gambolled and flitted recklessly ; dragonflies clad
in brilliant armour waged cruel war on the lesser
forms of winged life, chasing them everywhere.
The busy hum of insects, the air fragrant with the
forest perfumes, the murmur of the water, and TROUT.
the songs of feathered choristers made one feel
happy, though far away from civilisation. My
reverie was broken by a sudden splash; a speckled
tyrant, lurking under the bank on which I sat,
had pounced upon a large grey fly that, unconscious of danger, had touched the water with its
gauzy wings. Very well, Master Trout, you may
perhaps be as easily duped as your more cautious
confreres) so setting to work, I overhauled my
'possible sack,' found a few coarse hooks, a bit of
gut, and some thread.
Among other materials wherewith to make
a fly, feathers were indispensable. Shouldering
my gun, I strode off to look for a 'white flesher,'
alias ruffed grouse; soon stirred one up, bagged
him, hauled out his glossy bottle-green frill;
selected some feathers which I thought would
turn a decent hackle, picked out a couple of
brighter ones for wings, some red wool from
my blanket for dubbing, and with these materials
I tied a fly. Not the slightest resemblance, fancied or real, did it bear to anything ever created,
but still it was a fly, and, as I flattered myself, a
great achievement. A line was made from some
ends of cord; then cutting a young larch, I made
my tackle fast to the end, and thus equipped
sallied to the stream.
a 80
My first attempt in the swift scour was a
lamentable failure. Warily I threw my newly-
created monster well across the stream, and,
according _ to the most approved method, let it
slowly wash towards me, conveying to the rod
and line a delicate and tempting tremble; not a
rise, not a nibble; my hopes wavered, and I began
to think these trout wiser than I had given them
credit for. I tried the pool as a last chance; so,
leaning over the rock, I let my tempter drop
into the water; it made a splash like throwing
in a stone; but imagine my delight, ye lovers
of the gentle art, when a tremendous jerk
told me I had one hooked and struggling to
get free! Depending on the strength of my
tackle, I flung him out on the bank; and admitting all that may be said against me as
being barbarous and cruel, I confess to standing
over the dying fish, and admiring his brilliant
colour, handsome shape, fair proportion—and, last
thought not least, contemplated eating him! I
pitied him not as, flapping and struggling on the
grass, his life ebbed away, but thought only of
the skill I had displayed in duping him, and the
feast in store for me on returning to camp.
Having discovered a secret, I pressed eagerly
on to turn it to the best advantage, and that
day played havoc amongst the trouts. Some long
willow-branches, cut with a crook at the end,
served me in lieu of a basket. Passing the sticks
under the gill-covers, and out at the mouth, I
strung trout after trout until the sticks were
filled; then tying the ends together, flung them
across my shoulder and trudged along; a good
plan when you have not a basket. I now turned
my attention, and devoted all my ingenuity, to
the manufacture of a more angler-like fly; and in
this case the adage proved true, 'that a poor
original was better than a good imitation.' My
well-dressed fly was not one-half as much appreciated as the old one; there was a sham gentility
about him that evidently led at once to suspicion,
and it was only here and there I met with a fish
weak enough to fall a victim to his polished exterior; I therefore abandoned the dandy, and
returned again to the rough old red-shirted
' trapper ' with which I first commenced.
There was a stream in which I had better
sport than in any of the others, the Mooyee, on the
western slope of the Rocky Mountains—a small
stream, very rocky, clear as crystal, icy cold, and
so densely wooded on each side that fishing in it,
unless by wading, was impossible     I remember
s 82
one pool as being particularly productive — a
rock-basin, with a little rivulet dancing into it
through a pebbly reach; the water so beautifully
clear, that everything in the pool was visible,
as though one looked into an aquarium. I could
not help standing and feasting my eyes on the
trout playing about in it. To say the pool was
full of fish is no exaggeration; all, with their
heads toward the little stream, were gently sculling their tails to steady themselves. I gazed
upon a mass of fish, big and little, from four
rj    ounces to three pounds in weight.
Having sufficiently indulged in admiring this
host of trout (the like of which I had never
seen before), I began the war. Dropping my
' sensation-fly ' into the little stream, I let it sink
and drift into the pool. Twenty open mouths
rushed at it ravenously, and trout after trout
was rapidly landed on the shingle. I continued
this scheme until a heap of magnificent fish
were piled at my side, and the pool was rapidly
thinning. One crafty old fellow, however, that
looked about three pounds in weight, defied, all
my efforts to tempt him. I let the fly drift
over him, under his nose, above his nose; but
he scorned it, and, if he could, I felt he would
have winked his eye derisively at me. TROUT.
To have him I was determined: so sitting down,
I scooped out the eye of a fish, and put it on the
point of the flyhook, then let it drift down the
stream and into the pool; steadily it neared his
nose, and in breathless expectation I awaited the
result. He was evidently uneasy, and knew not
what to do. It floated past him, and I thought
my bait had failed; when round he turned, and
dashing viciously at it, seized (pardon the joke)
the hook and eye, and I had him fast. Being
far too heavy to risk jerking, I let him get over
his furious fit, then towed him ashore; hand over
hand gathering up my line, I got close to him,
and seizing him behind the gills, brought him
upon the shingle ; and a beauty he was!
I have tried various expedients—more as experiments than anything else—to find out what bait
these trout really preferred. Grasshoppers they
took readily, and I have often caught a trout
when only one leg of the insect remained on
the hook; the white meat from the tail of the
river crayfish is also a very favourite diet. Earthworms I could not try, because they do not
exist in British Columbia. But all my trials and
experiments failed signally in discovering anything that could at all compare with my ' first
%•' i
a 2
The trout spawn about October, or perhaps a
little later, depositing their ova in gravel in the
lesser streams.
Salmon Trout.—Salmo spectabilis (Red-spotted Salmon Trout), Grd. Proc. Acad., Nat. Soc.
Phild., viii. 218.—Sp. Ch.: Head a trifle more
than a fourth of the total length; maxillary extending to a vertical fine drawn posterior to the
orbit. Colour of the back dark-greenish, inchning
to grey, a lighter shade of the same colour on
the sides—beneath silvery-white; thickly marked
above the lateral fine with yellowish spots, interspersed with others that are bright red.
In habits and distribution the salmon-trout di£
fers in every respect from the preceding. There
can be no doubt that this fish is anadromous, and
comes up into the rivers to spawn at particular
periods of the year, like the salmon, and then
returns to sea. In October the great run begins.
Into all the rivers emptying intoPuget's Sound—
the Dwamish, NesquaUy, Puyallup, and several
others, up the Fraser and its tributaries, into all
the creeks and inlets about Vancouver Island,
crowd in shoal after shoal. They vary in size; I
have seldom seen them exceed three pounds in
The advent of these trout is the signal for a
general Indian fish-harvest. The banks of all the
little streams are soon dotted with temporary
lodges, and every one, from the naked little urchin to the stalwart chief, wages war upon these
fish. All sorts of expedients are used to snare
them. Boys, girls, and old squaws catch them
with a hook and line, about eight or ten feet long,
tied to the end of a short stick. The hook (made
of bone or hard wood) is baited with salmon-roe.
The Indians never use the roe fresh; dried in the
sun it becomes extremely tough, and acquires a
very rank oily smell. The fish take it greedily,
and in this manner large numbers are captured.
Another bait equally fatal is made by cutting a
small strip from the belly of a trout, and keeping
the shiny part outermost—winding it tightly
round the hook, from the barb, to about an
inch up the line, securing it by twisting white
horsehair closely round it. A small pebble is
slung about a foot from the baited hook, and the
line tied to the canoe-paddle close to the hand;
paddling slowly along, this bait is trolled after
the canoe. The intention is manifestly to imitate a small fish, as we troll with minnow or
spoon-bait in our waters. All the larger fish are
generally taken in this way. They rise readily to
a gaudy fly, and afford admirable sport.
u 86
But the great haul of hauls is effected by a
most ingeniously-contrived basket, in principle
the same as our eel-baskets. It is made of split
vine-maple, lashed together with strips of cedar-
bark. These baskets vary in size; some of them
are fifteen feet long, and six in circumference.
The crafty savages place their wicker traps in the
centre of the stream; a dam of latticework on
each side reaches to the bank, so that no fish can
get up-stream unless through the trap. Another
plan, and a very good one where the water is
shallow, is to  build a little* wall of boulders,
rising about a foot above water, slanting the wall
© ' ©
obliquely until the ends meet in the centre of
the stream at an acute angle; at this point they
place the basket. By this plan all the water is
forced through the basket, increasing the depth
and strength of the current. In happy ignorance
of their danger, the fish ply steadily up-current,
until they suddenly find themselves caged.
When a sufficient number of fish are in the
basket, an empty one is carried out and set, the
other brought ashore; its contents are turned out
upon the grass. Squaws, old and young, knife in
hand, squat round, looking eagerly on; and as the
captives lie flapping on the sward, in the harpies
rush, seize a trout, rip him up, remove the inside, CANDLE-FISH.
and then skewer him open with two sticks. Poles,
having a fork at the end, are placed firmly in the
ground, about fifteen feet apart. Other sticks,
barked and rubbed very smooth, are placed in these
forked ends, on which the spHt trout are strung.
Small fires are kept smouldering below the strung-
up fish. When thoroughly dry, they are packed
in small bales, and lashed with the bark of the
Candle-fish.—The Candle-fish or Eulachon,
Salmo (mallotus) Pacificus, Rich. F. B. A., p. 227;
Thaleichthys  Pacificus,  Grd Sp.   Ch.:   Head
somewhat pointed and conical; mouth large,
its fissure extending back to the anterior margin of the orbit; opercule terminated by a
rounded angle, lower jaw projecting a little
beyond the upper one ; tongue rough, teeth
on the pharyngeals; lower jaw, palatines,
and vomer devoid of teeth; eye rather small;
adipose fin, placed opposite the hind portion of
the anal; scales subelliptical. Dorsal region
greenish-olive colour, generally silvery-white,
sparsely spotted with dirty yellow; a dark spot,
nearly black, over each orbit.
A human body is a kind of locomotive furnace,
that has to be kept up to a given temperature
by fuel, its  food.    Under  a tropical sun,  not
i 88
much fuel is needed, and that of a sort that will
not keep up a large fire. Man, therefore, wears
clothes made from a vegetable fibre, and eats
fruit and rice, the lowest in the scale of heat-
making materials. Far north among the polar
ice, where you cannot touch metal without its
taking the skin off your fingers, the human
locomotive is protected by thick coverings of
fur: the native takes the jackets from his furry-
footed companions, and covers his own skin with
them. But the grand oil-springs—the locomotive's necessary coal-mines in'another form—are
in the bodies of the great seals and whales.    Oil
and blubber burn rapidly, and give out a large
amount of heat. With a fur-suit outside, and
inside a feed of seal's flesh washed down with
seal's oil, the steam of life is kept up very easily.
But all the fat of the sea is not in the bodies of
those great blubbering whales and seals. There
is a fish, small in size, not larger than a smelt,
that is fat beyond all description, clad in glittering silver armour, and found on the coasts
of British Columbia, Russian America, Queen
Charlotte and Vancouver Islands, which is called
by the natives Eulachon or Candle-fish. I have
had both leisure and opportunity to make this
fish's  intimate   acquaintance;   played   the   spy CANDLE-FISH.
upon its habits, its coming and going, and have
noted how it is caught and cured.
Picture my home—an Indian village, on the
north shore of British Columbia. The village is
prettily situated on a rocky point of land, chosen,
as all Indian villages are, with an eye to prevention of surprise from concealed foes. Rearward
it is guarded by a steep hill, and it commands
from the front the entrance to one of those long
canals, which, as I have previously stated, resemble
the fiords of Norway, often running thirty or forty
miles inland.
The dwellings consist of ten or fifteen rude
sheds, about twenty yards long and twelve wide,
built of rough cedar-planks; the roof a single
slant covered with poles and rushes. Six or
eight families live in each shed. Every family
has its own fire on the ground, and the smoke,
that must find its way out as best it. can through
cracks and holes (chimneys being objected to),
hangs in a dense upper cloud, so that a man
can only keep his head out of it by squatting on
the ground: to stand up is to run a risk of suffocation. The children of all ages, in droves, naked
and filthy, live under the smoke; as well as
squaws, who squat round the smouldering logs; innumerable dogs, like starving wolves, prick-eared,
sore-eyed, snappish brutes, unceasingly engaged
in faction-fights and sudden duels, in which the
whole pack immediately takes sides. Felt, but
not heard, are legions of bloodthirsty fleas, that
would try their best to suck blood from a boot,
and by combined exertions would soon flay alive
any man with a clean and tender skin.
The moon, near its full, creeps upward from
behind the hills; stars one by one are lighted
in the sky—not a cloud flecks the clear blue.
The Indians are busy launching their canoes,
preparing war against the candle-fish, which
they catch when they come to the surface to
sport in the moonlight.     As the rising  moon
J. © ©
now clears the shadow of the hills, her rays
slant down on the green sea, just rippled by the
land-breeze. And now, like a vast sheet of
pearly nacre, we may see the glittering shoals
of the fish—the water seems alive with them.
Out glides the dusky Indian fleet, the paddles
stealthily plied by hands far too experienced to
let a splash be heard. There is not a whisper,
not a sound, but the measured rhythm of many
paddlers, as the canoes are sent flying towards
the fish.
To catch them, the Indians use a monster comb
or rake, a piece of pinewood from six to eight CANDLE-FISH.
feet long, made round for about two feet of its
length, at the place of the hand-grip; the rest is
flat, thick at the back, but thinning to a sharp
edge, into which are driven teeth about four
inches long, and an inch apart. These teeth
are usually made of bone, but, when the Indian
fishers can get sharp-pointed iron nails, they
prefer them. One Indian sits in the stern
of each canoe to paddle it along, keeping
close to the shoal of fish ; another, having
the rounded part of the rake firmly fixed in
both hands, stands with his face to the bow
of the canoe, the teeth pointing sternwards.
He then sweeps it through the glittering mass
of fish, using all his force, and brings it to
the surface teeth upwards, usually with a fish
impaled, sometimes with three or four upon
one tooth. The rake being brought into the
canoe, a sharp rap on the back of it knocks the
fish off, and then another sweep yields a similar
It is wonderful to see how rapidly an Indian will
fill his canoe by this rude method of fishing. The
dusky forms of the savages bend over the canoes,
their brawny arms sweep their toothed sickles
through the shoals, stroke follows stroke in
swift   succession,   and  steadily   the  canoes  fill
B£= 92
with their harvest of ' living silver.' When they
have heaped as much as this frail craft will
safely carry, they paddle ashore, drag the boats
up on the shelving beach, overturn them as
the quickest way of discharging cargo, relaunch,
and go back to rake up another load. This
labour goes on until the moon has set behind
the mountain-peaks and the fish disappear, for
it is their habit rarely to come to the surface
except in the night. The sport over, we glide
under the dark rocks, haul up the canoe, and lie
before the log-fire to sleep long and soundly.
The next labour is that of the squaws, who
have to do the curing, drying, and oil-making.
Seated in a circle, they are busy stringing the
fish. They do not gut or in any way clean them,
but simply pass long smooth sticks through
their eyes, skewering on each stick as many as
it will hold, and then lashing a smaller piece transversely across the ends, to prevent the fish from
slipping off the skewer. This done, next follows
the drying, which is generally achieved in the
thick smoke at the top of the sheds, the sticks of
fish being there hung up side by side. They soon
dry, and acquire a flavour of wood-smoke, which
helps also to preserve them. No salt is used
by Indians in any of their systems of curing fish. CANDLE-FISH.
When dry, the candle-fish are carefully packed
in large frails made from cedar-bark or rushes,
much like those one buys for a penny at Billingsgate ; then they are stowed away on high stages
made of poles, like a rough scaffolding. This
precaution is essential, for the Indian children
and dogs have an amiable weakness for eatables;
and as lock-and-key are unknown to the redskins, they take this way of baffling the appetites
of the incorrigible pilferers. The bales are kept
until required for winter. However hungry or
however short of food an Indian family may be
during summer-time, it seldom will break in
upon the winter ' cache.'
I have never seen any fish half as fat and as
good for Arctic winter-food as these little candle-
fish. It is next to impossible to broil or fry
them, for they melt completely into oil. Some
idea of their marvellous fatness may be gleaned
from the fact, that the natives use them as
lamps for Hghting their lodges. The fish, when
dried, has a piece of rush-pith, or a strip from
the inner bark of the cypress-tree (Thuja
gigantea), drawn through it, a long round needle
made of hard wood being used for the purpose;
it is then lighted, and burns steadily until consumed.    I have read comfortably by its light 94
the candlestick, literally a stick for the candle,
consists of a bit of wood split at one end, with
the fish inserted in the cleft.
These ready-made sea-candles — little dips
wanting only a wick that can be added in a
minute — are easily transformed by heat and
pressure into liquid. When the Indian drinks
instead of burning them, he gets a fuel in the
shape of oil, that keeps up the combustion within him, and which is burnt and consumed in
the lungs just as it was by the wick, but only
gives heat. It is by no mere chance that myriads
of small fish, in obedience to a wondrous instinct,
annually visit the northern seas, containing within themselves all the elements necessary for supplying light, heat, and life to the poor savage,
who, but for this, must perish in the bitter cold
of the long dreary winter.
As soon as the Indians have stored away the
full supply of food for the winter, all the fish
subsequently taken are converted into oil. If we
stroll down to the lodges near the beach, we shall
see for ourselves how they manage it. The fish
reserved for oil-making have been piled in heaps
until partially decomposed; five or six fires are
blazing away, and in each fire are a number
of large round pebbles, to be made very hot. CANDLE-FISH.
By each fire are four large square boxes, made
from the trunk of the pine-tree. A squaw carefully piles in each box a layer of fish about three-
deep, and covers them with cold water. She
then puts five or six of the hot stones upon the
layers of fish, and when the steam has cleared
away, carefully lays small pieces of wood over the
stones ; then more fish, more water, more stones,
more layers of wood, and so on, until the box is
filled. The oil-maker now takes all the liquid from
this box, and uses it over again instead of water
in filling another box, and skims the oil off as it
floats on the surface.
A vast quantity of oil is thus obtained; often
as much as seven hundredweight will be made
by one small tribe. The refuse fish are not yet
done with, more oil being extractible from them.
Built against the pine-tree is a small stage, made
of poles, very like a monster gridiron. The refuse of the boxes, having been sewn up in porous
mats, is placed on the stage, to be rolled and
pressed by the arms and chests of Indian women;
and the oil thus squeezed out is collected in
a box placed underneath.
Not only has Nature, ever bountiful, sent an
abundance of oil to the redskin, but she actually
provides ready-made bottles to store it away in.
IAS 96
The great seawrack, that grows to an immense
size in these northern seas, and forms submarine
forests, has a hollow stalk, expanded into a complete flask at the root-end. Cut into lengths of
about three feet, these hollow stalks, with the
bulb at the end, are collected and kept wet until
required for use. As the oil is obtained, it is
stored away in these natural quart-bottles, or
rather larger bottles, for some of them hold three
Some fifty years ago, vast shoals of eulachon
used regularly to enter the Columbia; but the
silent stroke of the Indian paddle has now given
place to the splashing wheels of great steamers,
and the Indian and the candle-fish have vanished
together.    From the same causes the eulachon
has also disappeared from Puget's Sound, and is
now seldom caught south of latitude 50° N,
The Round-eish (Coregonus quadrilateralis).—
Sp. Ch.: Colour, yellowish-brown, paler on the
sides and belly than on the back; scales bright
and glittering, each edged with a narrow border
of dark-grey; cheeks, fins, and tail, a deeper tint of
the same colour as that on the back; head one-
sixth of the length (without the caudal); mouth
very small, under-jaw shorter than the upper—
no teeth perceptible.
This fish has a very wide geographical range,
being found as far north (according to Sir J.
Richardson) as the Mackenzie and Coppermine rivers, east of the Rocky Mountains, and
latitude 49° N. the western side; how much
farther they range north of 49° I had no opportunity of judging.
This handsome and delicious fish, one of the
Salmonido3, is most valuable as an article of food
to the Indians, west of the Rocky Mountains,
VOL. I. h 98
the White-fish (Coregonus albus), or ' Attihaw-
meg' (which means ' reindeer of the sea'), being
of like importance to those residing east of the
mountains. There the Indians frequently have
to subsist entirely on white-fish, and, at many
of the fur-trading stations, the traders get very
little else to. eat during nine months of the
' In one small lake (Lake St. Ann's), near Fort
Edmonton, forty thousand white-fish were taken,
of an average weight of three to four pounds, in
the course of three weeks.'    (Palliser's Exp.)
Two modes are adopted for preserving them—
one that of sun-drying, the other by freezing, in
which state they may be kept perfectly sweet
and free from taint for the whole winter.
The Round-fish is seldom taken over two
pounds in weight, and prior to spawning they
are loaded with fat, which on the shoulders almost
amounts to a hump, but becomes thin, watery,
and insipid, after the all-important duty of providing for their offspring is accomplished. I am
not quite sure when they return to the sea, as
nothing is seen of them after the ice sets in,
towards the end of November, until their arrival
on the following year. The ova are deposited in
much the same way as that of other Salmonida?: ROUND-FISH.
a hollow made in the gravel contains the eggs
and milt, which are covered over and abandoned—
the young fish, on its emergence from the egg,
taking care of itself as best it can.
One may journey a long way to witness a
prettier or more picturesque sight than Round-
fish harvesting on the Sumass prairie : the
prairie bright and lovely; the grass fresh, green,
and waving lazily; various wild flowers, peeping
coyly out from their cosy hiding-places, seem
making the most of the summer; a fresh, joyous
hilarity everywhere, pervading even the Indians,
whose lodges in gfeat numbers he scattered about.
O ©
From the edges of the pine-forest, where the
little streams came out from the dark shadow
into the sunshine, up to the lake, the prairie was
like a fair. Indians, old and young-; chiefs, braves,
squaws, children, and slaves; were alike busy in
capturing the round-fish, that were swarming up
the streams in thousands: so thick were they that
baits and traps were thrown aside, and hands,
baskets, little nets, and wooden bowls did the
work; it was only requisite to stand in the
stream and bale out the fish. Thousands were
drying, thousands had been eaten, and as many
more were wasting and decomposing on the
bank.   Supposing every fish escaping the Indians,
H 2
1 100
otters, and the various enemies that it meets with
in ascending the rivers, succeeded in depositing
its ova, where or how they find room to spawn,
or what becomes of the offspring, is more than I
Round-fish are cured by splitting and sun-
drying, precisely in the same maimer as salmon.
I have had very good sport angling for round-
fish, by using a rough gaudy fly. They rise
readily, and struggle obstinately, when hooked,
but soon give up ; turning on their side, they
permit themselves to be dragged upon the bank
without attempting a flap of resistance.
Some of these fish remain permanently, or at
any rate for some time, in fresh-water. I have
often taken them in the Na-hoil-a-pit-ka river, to
get into which they must have leaped the
Kettle Falls during a high flood, being quite
800 miles from the sea; and as they are caught
in the spring, I think it fair to conclude they do
not invariably return to the sea after spawning.
Herrings.—The Vancouver Island Herring
(Malletta coerulia, Grd.).—Sp. Ch.: Head, about
one-fifth of the total length of the body, slender,
its shape in profile somewhat fusiform; back,
bright steel-blue colour, shading away on the
sides to brilliant silvery-white; fins, yellow-white,
but uniform in colour; posterior extremity of
maxillary bone extending to a vertical line drawn
through the middle of the orbit; eye, subcircular,
large; colour, copper-red in the freshly-caught
fish; anterior margin of the dorsal fin, nearer the
extremity of the snout than the insertion of the
caudal. The average length is somewhat about
ten inches. Indian name along the coast, Stole
Skadget Indian, Lo-see.
There are three distinct herring arrivals, one
beginning in February and March; these fish
are small, and somewhat lean. About the beginning of April the run commences; these
are finer, full of spawn, and in high condition:
in June and July, and extending through the
summer, small shoals occasionally make their
appearance, but never as fine as the April fish.
Toward the middle of April herring legions
commence arriving from seaward in real earnest;
brigade follows brigade in rapid succession, until
every bay, harbour, inlet, estuary, and lagoon is
literally alive wi£h them. Close in their rear,
as camp-followers hang on the skirts of an army,
come shoals of dogfish, salmon, and fish-eating
I have often seen a shoal of herrings, when
hotly pursued by the dogfish, dash into a little
111 102
rock-bound nook, the water lashed into white
spray by a thousand tails and fins, plied with
all the power and energy the poor struggling
fish could exert to escape the dreaded foe. A
wall of rocks, right and left, ahead the shelving
shingle—on they go, and hundreds lie high-
and-dry, panting on the pebbles. It is just as
well perhaps to die there, as to be torn, bitten,
and eaten by the piratical cannibals that are
waging fearful havoc on the imprisoned shoal.
The dogfish wound ten times as many as they
eat, and, having satiated and gorged their greedy
stomachs, swim lazily away, leaving the dead,
dying, and disabled to the tender mercies of the
sea-birds watching the battle, ever ready to
pounce upon the unprotected, and end its miseries.
Garnering the herring-crop is the Coast Indian's
best ' sea-harvest;' lodges spring up like mushrooms along the edges of the bays and harbours;
large fleets of canoes dot the water in every direction, their swarthy crews continually loading
them with glittering fish ; paddling ashore, they
hand the cargo to the female part of the community, and then start again for a similar freight.
Indians have various plans for catchingherrings.
J- © ©
Immense numbers are taken with small hand-
nets, literally dipping them out of the water into HERRINGS.
the canoes ; they also employ the 'rake,' already
described as used for taking candle-fish. One
savage, sitting in the stern of his canoe, paddles
along, keeping in the herring shoal; another,
having the rounded part of the rake firmly fixed
in both hands, sweeps it through the crowded
fish, from before aft, using all his force: generally speaking, every tooth has a herring impaled on it, sometimes three or four. It is
astonishing how rapidly an Indian will fill
his canoe with herrings, using this rude and
primitive contrivance.
A wholesale system of capture is practised
in Puget's Sound, Point Discovery, and Port
Townsend, where large mud-flats run out for
long distances into the sea, which are left quite
dry at low-tide. Across these flats Indians
make long dams of latticework, having here and
there openings like our salmon-traps, allowing herrings to pass easily in, but preventing
their return. Shoal after shoal pass through
these ' gates,' but are destined never to get back
to their briny home. It is not at all uncommon
to take from two to three tons of fish at one tide,
by this simple but ingenious method.
When the tide is well out, and the flats clear
of water, the Indians bring down immense quan-
f 1/■
ill* I
i 104
tities of fir-branches, and stick them in the mud,
lay them on the ground, and, in all sorts of ways,
distribute them over the flats, within the weir-
dam. On these branches the herring-spawn
gets entangled; when covered with spawn the
branches are carried to the lodges, and the
fish-eggs dried in the sun. Thus dried, and
brushed into baskets, it is in appearance very
much like coarse brown sand; it is then stored
away, and when eaten mixed with fish-oil is
esteemed by the Indians as the very perfection
of feeding. This spawn is to Indians what caviare
is to Russians; but as I do not like either, it
may be I am not an authority on its merits as a
table dainty.
All herrings taken in the weirs are not eaten;
the Indians dry or otherwise preserve them, but
the great use to which they appropriate them
is to extract the oil. This is a grand process,
and carried on entirely by squaws. It would
be a great blessing, and save much annoyance,
if you could only leave your nose at home, or
at some distance away, during your visit to an
Indian village in herring-time, or whilst oil-
making. The entire atmosphere appears saturated with the odour of decomposing fish, rancid
oil, Indians, and dogs—a perfume the potency of which you only realise by having a thorough
good sniff. Then, if you ever forget it, or wish
to indulge your olfactory organ again, your tastes
and mine, gentle reader, must widely differ. The
oil is extracted and stored away (as described
in a previous chapter) in native bottles.
I have no hesitation in stating my conviction
that herring-fisheries established east and west of
Vancouver Island, or at different points along
the mainland coast, in the Straits of Juan de
Feuca, or amidst the islands in the Gulf of Georgia,
would turn out most remunerative speculations.
It is true that herring-fishing has been tried,
but only on the most limited scale. To make it
pay; for that, after all, is the primary consideration ; capital must be employed, and skilled hands
to manage the drying, curing, and packing. Salt
can be obtained in any quantities; wood in abundance, to make casks, build houses, boats, or
ships ; herrings within millions, requiring neither
risk nor skill to catch. The rapidly-growing
colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia Offer ready markets for libme consumption;
China, Japan, the Sandwich Islands, and the
entire coast southward from San Francisco to
Mexico, afford facilities for disposing of almost
any quantity of preserved fish.    Those who un-
1 106
dertake herring-fishing in North-western waters
© ©
on a large scale, judiciously applying capital,
skilled labour, and good management, will reap
an ample harvest, and become the real ' Herring
Kings ' of the far North-west.
Viviparous Fish We are so accustomed to
associate the production of young fishes with
eggs and milt, familiar to all as hard and soft roe
in the cured herring, that it is difficult to believe
in the existence of a fish bringing forth live
young, just as do dogs, cats, rats, and mice—only
with this difference, that, in the case of the fish,
the young are perfect in every detail, when
launched into the water, as the parent, and swim
away self-dependent, to feed or be fed on, as
good or ill-luck befals the little wanderer. The
woodcut represents the female fish with the
young in situ, together with others scattered
round her, having fallen out when the walls of
the abdomen were dissected open: the drawing
was made from a female fish I brought from
Vancouver Island, and now exhibiting in the
Fish Room of the British Museum.
At San Francisco, as early as April, I saw large
numbers of viviparous fish in the market for
sale; but then, it is an open question whether
these fish really arrive at an earlier  period of I
^T  viviparous fish.
the year in the Bay of San Francisco than at
Vancouver Island. I think not. That they are
taken earlier in the year is simply due to the
fact, that the fishermen at San Francisco have
better nets and fish in deeper water, than the
Indians, and consequently take the fish earlier.
The habit of the fish is clearly to come into
shallow water when the period arrives for producing its live young; and from the fact that
some of these fish are occasionally taken at all
periods of the year, I am induced to believe that
they do not in reality migrate, but only retire
into deeper water along the coast, there to
remain during the winter months, reappearing
in the shallow bays and estuaries in June and
July, or perhaps earlier, for reproductive purposes; here they remain until September, and
then entirely disappear.
They swim close to the surface in immense
shoals, and numbers are very craftily taken by
the Indians, who literally frighten the fish into
their canoes. At low-tide, when a shoal of fish
is in the bay, or up one of those large inlets that
intersect the coast-line, the savages get the
fish between the bank (or the rocks, as it may
be) and the canoe, and then paddle with all their
might    and   main  among   the   terror-stricken
11 108
fish, lashing the sea with their paddles, and uttering the most fiendish yells. Out leap the fish
from the water, in their panic to escape this (to
their affrighted senses) terrible monster; and if
not ' out of the fryingpan into the fire,' it is out
of the sea into the canoes—which in the long
run I take to be pretty much the same thing.
It appears to be a singular trait in the character of viviparous fish, that of leaping high
out of the water on the slightest alarm. I have
often seen them jump into my boat when rowing
through a shoal, which is certainly most accommodating. The Indians also spear them: they
use a long slender haft with four barbed points,
arranged in a circle, but bent so as to make them
stand at a considerable distance from each other.
With this spear they strike into a shoal of fish,
and generally impale three or four; many are
caught with hooks, but they bite shily, the only
baits I have seen taken being salmon-roe nearly
putrid, or bits of crab.
Just prior to my leaving Vancouver Island,
numbers were netted by some Italian fishermen
who had a seine. They found a ready sale
for them in the market, but as a table-dainty they
are scarcely worth eating; the flesh is insipid,
watery, and flabby, and I am convinced that no VIVIPAROUS FISH.
system of cooking or culinary skill would ever
convert it into a palatable fish.
The geographical range of viviparous fish, as far
as I have any opportunity of judging, is from the
Bay of San Francisco to Sitka. It may perhaps
(and I have but little doubt that it does) extend
much farther south along the Mexican coast; but
this I can only surmise, never having seen them
beyond the Hmits above stated. It frequents all
the bays and harbours on the east and west sides
of Vancouver Island, and is equally abundant in
the Gulf of Georgia and the Straits of Juan de
Feuca; making its appearance about the same
period, or perhaps somewhat earlier, in the various inlets on the Oregon coast, from Cape Flattery to the Bay of San Francisco. It will be just
as well perhaps, before I go into the subject of
its specific characters and singular reproductive
organs, I should mention how I first stumbled
upon the fact of its being viviparous.
Soon after I arrived at Vancouver Island, I at
once set to work to investigate, as far as it lay in
my power, the habits and periods of migration of
the different species of fish periodically visiting
the North-west coast. The sole means then at
my disposal to obtain fish for examination, or as
specimens to send home, was to employ Indians
rJ 110
or catch them myself; so it happened, some of
these fish were first brought me by Indians.
Cutting one down the side (the plan I usually
adopt to skin a fish, keeping the opposite side
untouched), to my intense surprise, out tumbled
a lot of little fish! My wildest dreams had never
led me to suppose a fish I then thought was a
bream, or one of the perch family, could be viviparous. I at once most hastily arrived at the
conclusion that the greedy gourmand had eaten
them. Dropping my knife, I sat in a most bewildered state looking at the fish.
The first ray of light that shone in to illumine
my mystification seemed to spring from the fact,
that each little fish was the model, counterpart,
and facsimile of the larger, and in shape, size,
and colour were exactly alike: from the position
too they occupied in the abdomen of the larger
fish, I was led at once to see the error of my
first assumption, that they had been swallowed.
Carefully dissecting back the walls of the abdomen, I discovered a delicate membranous bag or
sac having an attachment to the upper or dorsal
region, and doubled upon itself into numerous
folds or plaits, and between each of these folds
was neatly packed away a little fish; the bag was
of a bluish-white colour, and contained fourteen VIVIPAROUS  FISH.
fish.    I had no longer any doubt that the fish
was viviparous, and that it was a true and normal.
case of ovarian gestation.    So much for my first
discovery; the details of my subsequent examinations I shall again have occasion to refer to.
It happened most curiously that a Mr. Jackson
(I believe a government officer of the United
States) was, about this same period, amusing
himself by fishing at Salsalita, and caught two
viviparous fish, a male and a female. On cutting
open the female, to obtain a piece of the belly for
bait, he, like myself, was astonished at seeing a
whole bevy of tiny fish come scrambling out, and
at first imagined, as I did, that they had been
swallowed. He immediately wrote a letter to
Professor  Agassiz, sending  the mutilated fish,
© * © 7
having previously satisfied himself that they had
not been devoured, and stating at length his singular discovery. The professor was astonished,
and disbelieved the possibility of the fish being
viviparous, imagining some error had crept into
the statement sent him by Mr. Jackson; but other
fish in a similar state were subsequently obtained
by Mr. Carey, and forwarded to the learned
professor. The fact was then most undeniably
established, that this and many other species were
strictly viviparous.
j/ 112
I have spoken of this at some length, because
it is a curious coincidence that the same fact
should have been discovered by two men a long
distance apart, about the same date, and by both
in the same way,—by sheer accident.
Now we come to a ticklish question: how
are the young fish vitalised in the abdomen of
the mother? In this case I shall adopt what I
conceive to be the most straightforward course,
which is candidly to give my own thoughts, and
solicit from abler, older, and better physiologists
their opinions or theories—for I sincerely think
this is a question well worth careful investigation.
I believe the ova, after impregnation, at first
goes through the same transformations in the ovarium as it would do, supposing it to have been
spawned and fecundated in the ordinary spawning-bed, but only up to a certain point; then, I
think, the membrane enfolding the ova, that have
by this time assumed a fishlike type, takes on the
character and functions of a placental membrane,
and the young fish are supplied by an umbilical cord, just as in the case of a foetal mammal. But a third change takes place. There
can be no doubt that the young fish I cut out,
and that swam away, had breathed before they
were freed from the mother;  hence I am led VIVIPAROUS  FISH.
to think that, a short time prior to the birth
of the young, sea-water has access to this marsupial sac, washes over the infant fish, the gills
assume their normal action, and the regular
systemic circle is established. Maturity attained, the umbilical attachment snaps, and the
little fish, perfect in every detail of its organisation, is launched into the deep, to brave its
many perils, and shift for itself. The strong
transverse muscles attached to the powerful
sphincter (constituting the genital opening acting from the abdominal walls), I imagine, are in
some way concerned in admitting the sea-water,
and it appears to me a contrivance admirably
adapted to effect such a purpose; but how impregnation takes place, I may at once honestly
confess—I do not know.
The male is much like the female, but more
slim, and the milt just like that of other fish.
I can only conjecture that fecundation is accomplished through the medium of the sea-water,
admitted by the curiously-contrived floodgate
of the female, carrying in the milt-germs, and
washing them over the ova.
The actual period of utero-gestation I am by
no means sure about, but I am inclined to think
VOL. I. i 114
1 Hi ■
they breed twice in the year. It is worthy
of remark that the young mature fish are very
large, when compared with the size of the mother.
In a female fish eleven inches in length, the
young were three inches long—the adult fish
four-and-a-half inches high, the young an inch.
The only instance I can find recorded of a
viviparous fish bearing any analogy to the Em-
biotocidoB is the viviparous blenny (Zoarces vivi-
parus, Cuv.). Of course I exclude the sharks
and rays. Of the viviparous blenny little or
nothing appears to me to be known. On reference to Pennant's ' British Zoology,' all he
says is, that it was discovered by Schonevelde,
and that Sir Robert Sibbald afterwards found
it on the Scotch coast, and it was mentioned by
Linnaeus in his account of the Swedish Museum.
I quote the following paragraph verbatim from
Pennant's ' British Zoology.' Speaking of the
blenny,- he goes on to say: 'It is viviparous,
bringing forth two or three hundred young at a
time. Its season of parturition is a little after the
depth of winter; before midsummer it quits the
bays and shores, and retires into the deep, where
it is commonly taken. It comes into the mouth
of the River Esk at Whitby, Yorkshire, where
it is frequently taken from off the bridge.'
In Cuvier's 'Animal Kingdom' (vol. i. 'Fish'),
all I can glean is that the blenny is viviparous.
Yarrel, in his ' British Fishes,' speaks of a Mr.
Low, who put a number of the small fishes (the
young of the blenny) in a tumbler of sea-water,
in which they increased in size, but eventually
died from the want of fresh-water. Again, he
quotes a Mr. Neil, who saw in the Edinburgh
market, in 1807, several dozens of young fish escape alive from the female. ' The arrangement
of the perfectly-formed young in the foetal sac of
the gravid female is very remarkable.'
It is quite clear from the above quotations that
there is an analogy, if not a close one, between
the reproductive organs of the blenny and those,
of the viviparous fish from the North-west seas;
for ' the foetal sac of the gravid female' evidently
means that there is a kind of placental sac, in
which the young are contained; but it leaves us
quite as much in the dark as ever as to how foetal
life is supported. As the ova deposited in the
usual way (when fecundated) contains all that
is requisite for the development of the embryo,
it is just possible that the same process goes on in
the womb of the female viviparous fish, and that
the foetal sac is only a wrapper, formed by the
i 2 11
widened end of the ovary.    But still I maintain
that it fulfils a far more important duty.
I fear I have been rather prolix in the
foregoing descriptions, but I must plead the
novelty and importance of the subject as my
excuse. The most beautiful of all the species
of these fish is the sapphire perch (so called
by the traders), very plentiful in Puget's Sound.
Eighteen exquisitely beautiful mazarine-blue
lines or stripes mark its entire length from
head to tail; and above and below this line are a
number of spots of most dazzling blue, arranged
in a crescent shape, about the eyes and gill-covers.
Between these spots the colour changes, as it does
in the dolphin, throwing off a kind of phosphorescent light of varying shades of gold, purple, and
green—the back bright-blue, but darker than
the stripes; the belly white, marked by golden-
vellow streaks.
But now for the most important feature in the
history of these fish—that of bringing into the
world their young alive, self-dependent, and self-
supporting, as perfect in their minutest organisation as the parent-fish that gives them birth.
The generative apparatus of the female fish when
in a gravid state mav be defined as a large bag
<p J © ©
or sac.    Ramifying over its surface may be seen VIVIPAROUS FISH.
a most complicated and strangely beautiful vascular arrangement—a network of. vessels, the
use of which is clearly to convey the Hfegiving
fluid to the infant fish, and carry it back again,
after having served its destined purpose, to be
revivified for future use. The way this sac is,
as it were, folded, and the different compartments made for the accommodation of the embryonic fish, is most singular, and very difficult to
describe clearly.
The best illustration I can think of is an
orange. You must imagine the orange divided
into its regular number of little wedge-shaped
pieces, and each piece to represent a fish; that
the rind of the orange is a delicate membrane, having a globular shape, and easily compressed or folded. You now desire to fit the
pieces together again in the original orange-
shape, but you must begin on the outside of the
globular membrane, pressing in with each section a fold of membrane (remember that each
represents a fish); when each piece is in its place,
you will still have the sac in its rounded form,
but the rind or membrane has been folded in
with the different pieces. If I have made
myself understood, it will be seen that there
must be a double fold of membrane between 118
each portion of orange. This is exactly the way
the fish are packed in this novel placental sac.
If it were practicable to remove each fish from
its space, and the sac retain its normal shape,
there would be twelve or fourteen openings
(depending upon the number of young fish),
the wall of each division being a double fold
of membrane — the double edges wrapping or,
as it were, folding over the fish. Now make a
hole in the end of this folded bag, and blow it
full of air, and you get at once the globe-shaped
membranous sac I have likened to an orange.
The fish are always arranged to economise
space: when the head of a young fish points to
the head of its mother, the next to it is reversed,
and looks towards the tail. I am quite convinced
that the young fish are packed away by doubling
or folding the sac in the way I have endeavoured
to describe.   I  have again and again dissected
o ©
out this ovarian bag, filled with fish in various
stages of development, and floating it in saltwater, have, with a fine-pointed needle, opened
the edges of the double membranous divisions
that enwrap the fish—(the amount of overlapping is of course greater when the fish is in its
earlier stages of development). On separating
the edges of the sac, out the little fishes pop. I
have obtained them in all stages of their growth, VIVIPAROUS FISH.
—but sometimes (and this not once or twice,
but often) have set free the young fish from its
dead mother. Thus prematurely cut loose from its
membranous prison, the infant captive, revelling
in its newly-acquired liberty, swam about in the
saltwater, active, brisk, and jolly, in every particular, as well able to take care and provide for
itself as its parent. The female external genital
opening is situated a little posterior to the anal
opening; the orifice is at the apex, and in the
centre of a fleshy conical protuberance, which
is in fact, a powerful sphincter muscle, moored,
as it were, in its place by two strong muscular
ropes, acting from and attached to the walls of
the abdomen.
Dr. Giinther, in the British Museum Catalogue of Fishes, uses the generic title of Ditrema.
which I have adopted. The first glance at
the fish, as it lies on the table or on the beach,
would lead you to pronounce it a Pomotis
(belonging to the family Percido?) : the northern
Pomotis (P. vulgaris) is a good example, and
very common along the shores of Lake Huron,
where I have often caught them. Or, on the
other hand, you would be perhaps tempted to
call it a Sparus; the gilthead (S. auratus) may
be taken as a type suggesting. the resemblance.
This   fish  is  taken  in large numbers  in the
II 120
Mediterranean, and occasionally on the French
and Spanish coasts. But a close investigation
into the more marked generic and specific characters, apart from their reproducing organs, at
once clearly shows they belong neither to the
one family nor the other; they differ much more
from the percoids than from the sparoids, but
the cycloid scales remove them at once from the
sparoids, in which the scales present a very
uniform ctenoid type.
The illustration represents a female Ditrema
argenteum, Brit. Mus. Cat., ' Fishes.'
Amphistichus argenteus, Agass., Am. Journ.,
1854; Soc. Nat. Hist., 1861, p. 131; Pacif.
R. R. Exp., ' Fishes,' p. 201.
Mytilophagus fasciatus (Gibbons).
Amphistichus similes (Grd.).
The middle dorsal spines are either nearly as
long as, or somewhat longer, than the posterior;
scales on the cheek, in five series, somewhat
irregularly disposed. The height of the body
is rather more than a fourth of the total length
(without caudal); jaws equal anteriorly; the
maxillary extends to below the centre of the
orbit; lips thin, the fold of the lower interrupted
in the middle. For description of species, vide
Appendix, vol. ii.        "\^K STICKLEBACKS.
The genus Cottoido2 (fish having mailed cheeks)
has a great many representatives, common on
Vancouver Island and the British Columbian
coasts. The least of the family, the stickleback, is
so singularly different from most other fishes
in its habits, as to merit the first consideration.
In the months of July and August it would
be difficult to find a stream, large or small,
swift or slow, lake, pool, or muddy estuary,
east and west of the Cascade Mountains, that
has not in it immense shoals of that most
irritable and pugnacious little fish the stickleback, ever ready on the slightest provocation to
engage in a battle.    Let friend or foe but rub
© ©
against his royal person, or come nearer his private subaqueous garden than he deems consistent with safety or good behaviour, in a moment
the spines are erected like spear-points, the tiny 122
eyes glow with fury, the colours decking his
scaly armour intensify, and flash with a kind of
phosphorescent brightness, until the diminutive
gladiator looks the impersonation of rage and
fury; but as we cultivate his acquaintance, and
gain a better knowledge of his real character,
we shall discover that his quarrelsome disposition is not so much attributable to a morose
temper, and a love of fighting for fighting's sake,
as to a higher and more praiseworthy principle.
No  amount of thinking would  lead one to
imagine that his pugnacity arises from intense
parental affection: a love of offspring, scarcely
having a parallel in the living world, prompting
him to risk his life, and spend a great deal of his
time in constantly-recurring paroxysms of fury
and sanguinary conflicts, in which it often happens
that one or more of the combatants gets ripped
open or mortally stabbed with the formidable
spines arming the back. Skill in stickleback
battles appears to consist in rapidly diving under
an adversary, then as suddenly rising, and driving
the spines into his sides and stomach. The little
furies swim round and round, their noses tightly
jammed together ; but the moment one gets his
nose the least bit under that of his foe, then he
plies his fins with all  his  might, and forcing
himself beneath, does his best to drive in his
spear, if the other be not quick enough to dart
upwards and escape the thrust; thus squaring
they fight round after round until the death or
flight of one ends the combat.
I have often, when tired, lain down on the bank
of a stream, beneath the friendly shade of some
leafy tree, and gazing into its depths watched the
sticklebacks either guarding their nests already
built, or busy in their construction. The site is
generally amongst the stems of aquatic plants,
where the water always flows, but not too swiftly.
He first begins by carrying small bits of green
material, which he nips off the stalks, and tugs
from out the bottom and sides of the banks ; these
he attaches by some glutinous material, that he
clearly has the power of secreting, to the different
stems destined as pillars for his building. During this operation he swims against the work
already done, splashes about, and seems to test
its durability and strength; rubs himself against
the tiny kind of platform, scrapes the slimy
mucus from his sides, to mix with and act
as mortar for his vegetable bricks. Then he
thrusts his nose into the sand at the bottom,
and bringing a mouthful   scatters it over  the
O       ©
foundation;  this is repeated until enough  has
1 124
been thrown on to weight the slender fabric
down, and give it substance and stability. Then
more twists, turns, and splashings, to test the firm
adherence of all the materials that are intended
to constitute the foundation of the house, that
has yet to be erected on it. The nest or nursery, when completed, is a hollow, somewhat
rounded, barrel-shaped structure, worked together
much in the same way as the platform fastened
to the water-plants; the whole firmly glued
together by the viscous secretion scraped from
off the body. The inside is made as smooth as
possible, by a kind of plastering system; the
little architect continually goes in, then turning
round and round, works the mucus from his body
on to the inner sides of the nest, where it hardens
like a tough varnish. There are two apertures,
smooth and symmetrical as the hole leading into
a wren's nest, and not unlike it.
All this laborious work is done entirely by
the male fish, and when completed he goes
a-wooing. Watch him as he swims towards a
group of the fair sex, enjoying themselves amidst
the water-plants, arrayed in his best and brightest livery, all smiles and amiability: steadily,
and in the most approved style of stickleback
love-making, this young and wealthy bachelor STICKLEBACKS.
approaches the object of his affections, most likely
tells her all about his house and its comforts,
hints delicately at his readiness and ability to
defend her children against every enemy, vows
unfailing fidelity, and, in lover-fashion, promises
as much in a few minutes as would take a lifetime to fulfil. Of course she listens to his suit:.
personal beauty, indomitable courage, backed
by the substantial recommendations of a house
ready-built, and fitted for immediate occupation,
are gifts not to be lightly regarded.
Throwing herself on her side, the captive lady
shows her appreciation, and Ijy sundry queer
contortions declares herself his true and devoted
spouse. Then the twain return to the nest, into
which the female at once betakes herself, and
therein deposits her eggs, emerging when the
operation is completed by the opposite hole.
During the time she is in the nest (about six
minutes) the male swims round and round, butts
and rubs his nose against it, and altogether
appears to be in a state of defiant excitement.
On the female leaving he immediately enters,
deposits the milt on the eggs, taking his departure through the backdoor. So far, his
conduct is strictly proper, but, I am afraid,
morality in stickleback  society is  of rather  a
y fiii
lax order. No sooner has this lady, his first
love, taken her departure, than he at once
seeks another, introduces her as he did the
first, and so on wife after wife, until the nest is
filled with eggs, layer upon layer—milt being
carefully deposited betwixt each stratum of
ova. As it is necessary there should be two
holes, by which ingress and egress can be
readily accomplished, so it is equally essential in
another point of view. To fertilise fish-eggs,
running water is the first necessity ; and as
the holes are invariably placed in the direction
of the current, a steady stream of water is thus
directed over them.
For six weeks (and sometimes a few days more)
the papa keeps untiring sentry over his treasure,
and a hard time he has of it too: enemies of all
sorts, even the females of his own species, having
a weakness for new-laid e
hover round his
brimming nest, and battles are of hourly occurrence ; for he defies them all, even to predatory
water-beetles, that, despite their horny armour,
often get a fatal lance-wound from the furious
fish. Then he has to turn the eggs, and expose
the under ones to the running water: and even
when the progeny make their appearence, his
domestic duties are far from ended, for it is said STICKLEBACKS.
(although I have never seen him do it), 'When one
of the young fish shows any disposition to wander
from the nest, he darts after it, seizes it in his
mouth, and brings it back again.'
3 © ©
.There are three species that come into the
fresh-waters of British Columbia, to nest and to
hatch their young:—
Gasterosteus serratus, the Saw-finned Stickleback (Ayres, Proc. Cal. Acad. Nat. Sc. 1855
p. 47).—Sp. Ch.: Body entirely plated; peduncle
of tail keeled; the three dorsal spines conspicuously serrated on their edges; anterior fin a
little in advance of the base of the pectoral; insertion of ventrals in advance of the second dorsal
spine—their own spines serrated on both edges;
posterior margin of caudal somewhat hollowed.
The colour of the freshly-caught fish is greyish-
olive along the dorsal line; but on the sides,
particularly in the male, it shades away into an
iridescence, like that seen on mother-o'pearl,
again changing to pure silvery-white on the
Gasterosteus Pugettii, the Puget Sound Stickleback (Grd., Proc. Acad., Nat. Sc. Phil., viii.
1856).—Sp. Ch.: Body only in part plated, peduncle of tail not keeled; the three dorsal spines
without  serrations;  the  anterior  one  inserted
fl 128
immediately behind the base of the pectorals;
ventrals inserted anterior to the second dorsal
spine. The colour is very much like that of G.
serratus, but more decidedly purplish on the
sides ; the eyes bright red in both species, when
fresh from the water.
Gasterosteus concinnus, the Tiny Stickleback
(Rich., F. B. A., p. 57, vol. iii.).—Sp. Ch.: Head
one-fourth of the total length, mouth small, and
teeth but feebly developed; dorsal spines nine,
seventh and eighth smaller than the preceding
ones, the ninth longer than any of the others.
The abdomen is protected by a bony cuirass, and
the ventrals represented by two spines. All the
spines are moveable, and destitute of serrations.
Colour  of the  back  a bright  sea-green, sides
© © 7
purplish-pink, shading away to a silvery-white
on the belly ; the entire body speckled with
minute black spots.
This handsome little stickleback, though
smaller in size than his brethren, is vastly more
abundant. Sir J. Richardson.speaks of it 'as
being common in the Saskatchawan, ranging as
far north as the 65th parallel.' So abundant are
they in the lakes and pools about Cumberland
House, east of the Rocky Mountains, that sledge-
loads are dipped out with wooden bowls,  and STICKLEBACKS.
used for feeding the dogs. I have seen cartloads
of these tiny fish in a single pool, left by the
receding waters after the summer floods, on the
Sumass prairie and banks of the Chilukweyuk
river. As the water rapidly evaporated, the miser- ■
able captives huddled closer and closer together,
starving with hunger and panting for air, but
without the remotest chance of escape. The
sticklebacks die and decompose, or yield banquets to the bears, weasels, birds, and beetles;
the pool dries, and in a few weeks not a trace
or record remains of the dead host of fishes. In
the smaller streams, a bowl dipped into the water
where the sticklebacks were thickest, could be
readily filled with fish.
Sticklebacks are the most voracious little
gourmands imaginable, devourers of everything,
and cannibals into the bargain; tearing their
wounded comrades into fragments, they greedily
swallow them. I have often taken this species
(G. concinnus) in Esquimalt Harbour, where
they are very plentiful during the winter months.
The natives of Kamtschatka make use of a
stickleback (67. obolarius), which they obtain in
great quantities, not only as food for the sledge-
dogs, but for themselves also, by making them
into   a   kind   of  soup.     West  of the Rocky
vol. I. k 130
'■ if
Mountains I have never seen the Indians use
them as an article of diet, not from any dislike to
the fish, but simply because there are larger and
better fishes quite as abundant, and as easily
procurable. Whether there are any species in
the North-west, strictly marine, building their
nests in the sea and never entering fresh-water,
I am unable to say.
The Fifteen-spine Stickleback (Gasterosteus
spinachia) is along our own coasts strictly a tenant of the ocean, and makes a nest of seaweeds
glued together with an adhesive mucus, in the
same way as the nests of our little friends are
cemented, that seek as their nursery the clear
cold streams of British Columbia, Oregon, and
Vancouver Island.
The Bullhead.—The stickleback has a near
relative, with a name nearly as ugly as the
owner, ' Bullhead' being certainly not suggestive
of beauty! With such a name, we are the less
disappointed to find the entire family of our
friends ill-favoured, prickly, hard-skinned, and
as uncomfortable to handle as to look at. Plates
of scaly armour cover the head, from which
sprout sharp spines, like a crop of horns; between
these are tubercles that have the appearance of
being rivets.   The body looks like an appendage, THE bullhead.
tapering away to a mere nothing at the tail.
There are many species frequenting the lakes and
rivers of British Columbia, during the summer
months, for the purpose of spawning. On their
return to the sea, swarms of young bullheads, of
various species, regularly follow the ebb and flow
of the tide; and in rough weather every breaker,
as it rushes up the shelving shingle, carries a
freight of tiny fish, that are left struggling amid
the pebbles in thousands, to be dragged back and
floated out again by the succeeding wave, or to
find a last home in the stomachs of the sea-birds.
The bullhead does not actually build a nest,
like the stickleback, but makes an egg-house, on
7 ©© 7
the bottom of some slowly-running stream. The
male usually selects a hollow under a boulder,
or a space betwixt two stones, and shoves out the
lesser pebbles and gravel, to form a pit. This
accomplished, several females are in turn induced
to deposit their roe, having done which they are
driven off by the male, who supplies the milt,
then shovels the sand and pebbles, with his huge
horny head, over the treasure, until it is completely covered: more females, more eggs and
milt, more shovelling, until the affair is completed to* the bullhead papa's satisfaction.
Now stand clear all thievish prowlers! Let any-
K 2
<m 132
thing of reasonable size venture near—then head
down, and plying all his propellers to their
utmost power, he charges at them, driving his
horns in to the very hilt; free again, seizes hold
with his mouth — thus biting and stabbing,
until he kills or routs his foe. I am not able
to say exactly how long the eggs are incubating,
but, as nearly as I could observe them (in the
Sumass and Chilukweyuk streams), in about
eight weeks the young escape from the egg-
house. The females were invariably driven away,
with the same ferocity as other unwelcome
guests, from the depositing the spawn to the
exit of the infant fish: then old and young disappear into deeper water, and are seldom seen
During the winter, I constantly obtained the
bullheads from out the seine-nets used in Esqui-
malt Harbour to procure fish for the supply of
Victoria market. Rejected by the fishermen,
the Indians greedily gathered up the despised
fishes, broiled them over the lodge-fire empaled
on a slender twig, then feasted right-royally on
the grilled remains of the spiny martyrs.
The genus Centridermichthys is characterised
as follows :—Head more or less* depressed,
rounded   anteriorly;   head and body   covered
i THE bullhead.
with soft and scaleless skin, more or less studded
with prickles or granulations; teeth in the
jaws, on the vomer and palatine bones.
Centridermichthys asper (Coitus asper, Rich.
F. B. A. 'Fishes,' p. 295), the Prickly-skinned
Bullhead. — Sp. Ch.'. Gill-openings separated
beneath, by an isthmus; three opercular spines;
crown with very small warts, back of the body
with very minute spines; colour light yellowish brown, thickly dotted with spots nearly black.
The length of the adult fish is seldom over
three-and-a-half inches.
These tiny bullheads are common in all the
streams east and west of the Cascades.    They are
not fond of going very far from the sea, but leave
the larger rivers soon after entering them, seeking
the clear rivulets  and shallow lakes.     In the
streams flowing through the Sumass and Chiluk-
© ©
weyuk prairies, in those flowing into Puget's
Sound, and north of it on the mainland to Fort
Simpson, and in all the streams draining Vancouver Island, the prickly-skinned bullhead can be
easily found in July and August. Similar in
habits, and frequenting the same localities as the
preceding, are several species described in the
The Rock Cod.—Belonging to the same family 134
is the rock cod, as it is usually styled by the
fishermen who provide the Victoria and San
Francisco markets ; one of the best and daintiest
table-fish caught in the seas round Vancouver
Island. It often attains a considerable size, and
being in tolerable abundance, constitutes an article of some commercial value.
As numbers are taken all through the year,
© J
and as I never saw them in fresh-water, it is fair
to assume they are strictly marine. Their appearance is not prepossessing, giving one the
idea of being all head, fins, and bones, as thev
© J
lie gasping on the shingle; an error of the eye
only, as you discover when testing the substance
and quality of a large one, smoking hot from the
fish-kettle. Three species are commonly offered
for sale in the markets, one of which is also taken
in Japanese seas. They vary in size; I have
often seen a rock cod thirty inches in length.
J ©
Biting greedily at any bait, they are constantly
caught by the Indians when trolling for salmon.
The one usually seen in the Victoria markets
is   Sebastes  inermis  (Cuv.   and  Val., p.   346;
Faun. Japon.,' Poiss.,' p. 47, pi. 21, figs. 3, 4), the
Weak-spined Rock Cod Sp. Ch.: The height of
the body equals the length of the head; the upper
surface of the head flat, with some depressed THE  CHIRUS.
spines behind the orbit. The fourth and fifth
dorsal spines are the largest, longer than those
of the anal, and nearly half the length of the
head.    Colour, uniform brownish.
The Chirus.—On the fish-stalls in Victoria
and San Francisco markets the visitor may
generally see, lying by the side of the dingy,
spiny rock cod, a handsome, shapely fish, about
eighteen inches in length. Its sides, though
somewhat rough, rival in beauty many a tropical flower: clad in scales, adorned with colours
not only conspicuous for their brilliancy, but
grouped and blended in a manner one sees only
represented in the plumage of a bird, the wing
of a butterfly, or the petals of an orchid, this
' ocean swell' is known to the ichthyologist as
the Chirus—the Terpugh (a file) of the Russians—the Idyajuk of the Aleutian Islanders—
the Tath-le-aest of the Vancouver Islanders.
Quite as delicious to the palate as pleasant
to the eye, the chirus is altogether a most
estimable fish. Its habit is to frequent rocky
places, particularly where long ledges of rocks
are left bare at low-water, and sheltered at the
same time from the surge of the sea in rough
weather. Here the chirus loves to disport his
gaily-dressed person, amidst the gardens of sea 136
plants: for in these gardens dwell jellyfish,
tender little crustaceans, soft-bodied chitons,
crisp shrimps, and juicy annalides—all dainty
viands, on which this gay lounger delights to
regale himself.
At low-tide, when strolling over the slippery
rocks that everywhere gird the eastern side of
Vancouver Island, in the larger rock-pools I
was certain to see lots of these fish imprisoned,
having lingered imprudently at their feasts.
This indulgence constantly costs the idler his
life: gulls, herons, shags also prowl over the
rocks, well knowing what admirable preserves
these aquariums are. Once spied out, it is
of no avail to hide amidst the seaweeds, or cower
under the shelving ledges draped with coralines.
The large pincer-like beak follows, nips him
across the back; a skilful jerk gets the head
first—then down a lane he goes from which no
chirus ever returns.
We might as reasonably attempt to describe,
the flushing changing colours   of  the   Aurora
© O       ©
Borealis as seen in high latitudes, or the phosphorescence of a tropical sea, or the wing of the
diamond-beetle, as to hope by word-painting
to give the faintest conception of the colourings
that adorn the chirus: red, blue, drange,   and FLATFISH.
green are-so mingled, that the only thing I can
think of as a comparison is a floating flower-bed,
and even then the gardener's art, in grouping, is
but a bungle contrasted with Nature's painting !
There are three species of chirus common
along the island and mainland coasts. The one
usually sold is Chirus hexagrammus (Cuv., Regne
An., ' Poiss.,' pi. 83), the Six-lined Chirus.—Sp.
Ch.: A skinny tentacle over each orbit; palatine
teeth none; two muciferous channels, between
the lateral line and dorsal fin; scales ciliated.
Flatfish.—In all the muddy estuaries and
on the sandy flats about Puget's Sound, at the
mouths of the Columbia and Fraser rivers, several
species of flatfish are found in great abundance.
These fish have always formed an important
article of food to all the sea-fishing Indians, and,
since the influx of white settlers, are caught
for the supply of the Victoria and San Francisco
Only the larger species are taken with hook
and line, the smaller flounders being usually
speared by the Indians. And a pleasant sight
it is, too, to watch a little fleet of canoes, each
one slowly paddled by a dusky squaw gliding
along the sandy shallows, the spearman in the
bow ' prodding' for the fish hidden in the mud I'
and sand. The flounder, thus disturbed, scuds
along the bottom, and stirs up the sand like a
trail, marking its line of progress. The sharp-
eyed savage notes the spot where the dirt-line
ends, paddles up to it, dashes in the spear, and,
quick as thought, transfers the ' flat' fish from its
fancied hiding-place to the bottom of the canoe.
Immense numbers are taken in this manner at
every tide. The following are the species usually sold in the markets:-—
Pleuronectes bilineates (Platessa bilineata,
Ayres, in Proc. Calif. Acad., 1855, p. 40),the Two-
lined Flatfish.—Sp. Ch.: The height of the body
is a little less than one-half of the entire length,
the length of the head nearly one-fourth ; snout
somewhat projecting, not continuous in direction with the descending profile of the nape;
eyes on the right side large, their diameter being
two-sevenths of the length of the head, separated
by a strong prominent ridge, which is partly
covered with scales; lower jaw prominent; a
single even row of strong blunt teeth in each
© ©
jaw, less developed on the coloured side than on
the blind ; scales very conspicuous, those on
the head and on the tail ciliated; lateral line
with a strong curve above the pectoral: a second
series of pores commences above the eye, and
follows the dorsal profile to the vertical, from the
opercular angle, where it terminates—it communicates with the true lateral line by a branch; the
dorsal fin rises over about the anterior third of
the orbit, and terminates at a distance from the
caudal equal to the breadth of the eye; anal
spine prominent; pectoral fin half as long as
the head. Colour, light greyish-brown, with
lighter blotches. More abundant at SanJFran-
cisco than at Vancouver Island and north of the
Pleuronectes digrammus (Giinther, Brit. Mus.
Catalogue, ' Fishes,'), the Two-lined Flounder
(Nov. Spec).—Sp. Ch.: The height of the body
rather less than one-third of the entire length,
O 7
the length of the head two-ninths, and that
of the caudal two-thirteenths; snout with the
lower jaw prominent, equal in length to the diameter of the eye, which is nearly one-fifth of
that of the head ; maxillary as long as the eye;
the upper jaw with a series of twenty-eight
small truncated teeth on the blind side, those of
the other side being few in number and very
small; eyes separated by a very narrow, naked,
bony ridge; scales small but conspicuous; lateral
fine, with a very slight curve above the pectoral;
a second series of pores commences above the
,fi 140
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1   I
eye, and follows the dorsal profile to the twenty-
sixth dorsal ray, where it terminates; dorsal and
anal rays quite smooth—the dorsal commences
above the anterior third of the orbit, and terminates at a distance from the caudal nearly equal
to the depth of the free portion of the tail; anal
spine prominent—the longest dorsal rays are
somewhat behind the middle of the fin, rather
shorter than the pectoral, and half as long as the
head; uniform brownish; length, eight inches.
I obtained this new species of flounder in Mackenzie's Arm, a tidal inlet continuous with Victoria
Pleuronichthys guttidatus (Gerard, in Proc.
Acad., Nat. Sc. PhiladeL, 1856,p. 137, and U. S.
Pacif. R.R. Expd., 'Fishes,' p. 152).—Sp. Ch.:
The height of the body is somewhat more than
one-half of the total length (with the caudal), the
length of the head one-fourth, and that of the
caudal one-fifth. The interorbital space is exceedingly narrow, and raised ridgelike ; snout
very blunt and short; mouth small, with the jaws
even. The dorsal commences above the anterior
part of the orbit, and terminates at a short distance from the caudal; its longest rays are on
and behind the middle of the fin. Scales, very
small, cycloid.    The lateral line is slightly arched FLATFISH.
above the pectoral; a similar series of pores runs
from the upper eye, along the base of the dorsal
fin, to about the middle of the length. There is
a connecting branch between both lines, across
the occipital region. Colour greyish, densely
dotted with black and white spots. Common
at Vancouver Island and San Francisco. For
further description  of  species, vide Appendix,
n. 142
1 t
Haldbut.—The Halibut, a giant amongst flatfishes, is taken by the Indians on the western
side of Vancouver Island; a veritable ground-
? ©
feeder, frequenting deep-sea sandbanks, and devouring anything and everything that comes
within reach of his terrible mouth. The halibut,
at Vancouver. Island, attains to an immense size,
300 lbs. being no unfrequent weight.
The Indians are most skilful in securing this
leviathan of the deep, as I had an opportunity
of seeing, when visiting the northern end of the
island. Picture to yourselves an Indian village,
built on a plateau overlooking an open roadstead ; a crowd of Indians on the shingly beach,
watching the departure of a large canoe, manned
by four savages, awaiting my arrival. This being
a special occasion, they were more elaborately
painted than usual. A brief description of one
will serve to portray the other three. Tailors
are entirely unknown in the land of the redskin ; a small piece of blanket or fur, tied round
the waist,  constitutes  the court,  evening, and
' I ©7
morning costume of both chief and subject.
My crew were kilted with pieces of scarlet
blanket. Imagine, if you can, a dark swarthy copper-coloured figure leaning on a canoe-paddle, his
jet-black hair hanging down nearly to the middle
of his back, the front hair being clipped close in
a straight line across the forehead. Neither
beard, whisker, nor moustache ever adorns the
face of the redskin, the hair being tweezered out
by squaws in early life, and thus destroyed. A
fine of vermilion extends from the centre of the
forehead to the tip of the nose, aaid from this
' trunk line' others radiate over and under the
eyes and across the cheeks. Between these red
lines white and blue streaks alternately fill the
interstices. A similar pattern ornaments chest,
arms, and back, the frescoing being artistically
arranged to give apparent width to the chest;
the legs and feet are naked. A ' fire-bag,' made
from the skin of the medicine-otter, elaborately
decorated with beads, scarlet cloth, bells, and
brass buttons, slung round the  neck by a broad
■MM •-
! \m
belt of wampum, completed the costume of my
The canoe was what is commonly called
a ' dug-out,' that is, made from a solid log of
wood. Coiled round the sharp bow of the
canoe, like a huge snake, was a strong line about
sixty fathoms in length, made from the inner
bark of the cypress, neatly twisted. Lying
along each side, extending far beyond both bow
and stern, were two light spear-hafts, about sixty
feet long ; whilst stowed away in the bow were a
dozen shorter spears, one end being barbed, the
other constructed to fit on the longer spear, but
so contrived that the spearman can readily detach
it by a sldlful jerk. Tied Hghtly to the centre
of each of the smaller spears was a bladder made
from sealskin, blown full of air, the fine attaching it being about three fathoms in length.
I had hardly completed my investigation of
the canoe, its crew, and contents, when, to my
intense astonishment, the four Indians lifted me,
as they would a bale of fur, or a barrel of pork,
and without a word deposited me in the bottom
of the canoe, where I was enjoined to sit, much
in the same position enforced on a culprit in the
parish stocks. I may mention, incidentally, that
a canoe is not half as enjoyable as poets and HALIBUT FISHING.
novelists, who are prone to draw imaginary
sketches, would lead the uninitiated to believe.
It would be impossible to trust oneself in a more
uncomfortable, dangerous, damp, disagreeable
kind of boat — generally designated a ' fairy
barque,' that ' rides, dances, glides, threads its
silvery course over seas and lakes, or, arrowlike, shoots foaming rapids.' All a miserable delusion and a myth! Getting in (unless lifted,
as I was, bodily, like baggage) is to any but
an Indian a dangerous and difficult process ;
the least preponderance of weight to either
side, and out you tumble into the water to a
certainty. Again, lowering oneself into the
bottom is quite as bad, if not worse, requiring
extreme care to keep an even balance, and a
flexibility of back and limb seldom possessed
by any save tumblers and tightrope-dancers.
Down safely, then, as I have said, you are compelled to sit in a most painful position, and the
least attempt to alter it generally results in a
sudden heeling-over of the canoe, when you find
yourself sitting in a foot of cold water.
We are off, and, swiftly crossing the harbour,
the beach grows indistinct in the distance ; but
we still see the dusky forms of the Indians, the
rough gaudily painted huts, the gleam of many
VOL. I. l 146
lodge-fires, and wreaths of white smoke slowly
ascending through the still air; the square substantial pickets shutting in the trade-fort, its roof
and chimneys just peeping above, backed by the
sombre green of the pine-trees, altogether presented a picture novel and pretty in all its details.
A few minutes and we rounded the jutting
head-land, keeping close along the rocky shore of
the island, gliding past snug bays and cozy little
land-locked harbours, the homes and haunts
of countless wildfowl; soon we leave the shore,
and stand away to sea. The breeze is fresher
here, and a ripple, that would be nothing in a
boat, makes the flat-bottomed canoe unpleasantly
lively. Save a wetting from the spray, and occasional surge of water over the gunwale, all
© O
goes pleasantly. The far-away land is barely distinguishable in the grey haze. No canoes are
to be seen in the dark-blue water; the only sign
of living things—a flock of sea-gulls waging war
on a shoal of fish, the distant spouting of a whale,
and the glossv backs of the black fish as thev roll
lazily through the ripple. The line at the bow
is uncoiled, a heavy stone enclosed in a net
attached as a sinker, a large hook made of bone
and hardwood, baited with a piece of the octopus,
(a species of cuttle-fish), is made fast to the long
line by a piece of hemp-cord; then comes a heavy
plunge of the sinker, the rattle of the line as it
runs over the side of the Canoe, and—we wait in
silence for the expected bite.
A tug, that came unpleasantly near to upsetting all hands, lets us know that a halibut was
bolting the- tempting morsel, hook and all. A
few minutes gave him time fairly to swallow it,
and now a sudden twick buries the hook deeply
in the fleshy throat; the huge flatfish finds, to his
cost, that his dinner is likely seriously to disagree
with him, whilst in the canoe all hands are in full
employ. The bowman, kneeling, holds on tightly
with both hands to the line; the savage next
7 ©
him takes one of the long spears, and quickly
places on the end of it a shorter one, baited
and bladdered; the other two paddle warily.
At first the hooked fish was sulky, and remained obstinately at the bottom, until continued
jerks at the line ruffled his temper, and excited
his curiosity sufficiently to induce a sudden ascent
to the surface; perhaps to have a peep at his
persecutors. Awaiting his appearance stood the
spearman, and when the canoe was sufficiently
near, in he sent the spear, plucking the long haft
or handle from the shorter barbed spear, which
remained in the fish, the bladder, floating like a
L   2
I :
* i»
1   f ' •"   iil
Hfe-buoy, marking the fish's whereabouts. The
halibut, finding his reception anything but agreeable, tries to descend again into the lower regions,
a performance now difficult to accomplish, as the
bladder is a serious obstacle. Soon reappearing
on the surface, another spear was sent into him,
and so on, until he was compelled to remain
floating. During all this time the paddlers,
aided by the line-man, followed all the twistings
and windings of the fish, as a greyhound courses
a doubling hare.
For some time the contest was a very equal
one, after the huge fish was buoyed and prevented
from diving. On the one side the halibut made
desperate efforts to escape by swimming, and
on the other the Indians, keeping a tight line,
made him tow the canoe. Evident signs of
weariness at last began to exhibit themselves,
his swimming became slower, and the attempts
to escape more feeble and less frequent. Several
times the canoe came close up to him, but a
desperate struggle enabled him once more to
get away. Again and again we were all but
over; the fish, literally flying through the water,
sometimes towed the canoe nearly under, and at
others spun it suddenly round, like a whipped
top; nothing but the wonderful dexterity of the
paddlers saved us from instant shipwreck and it I
the certainty of drowning. I would have given
much to have stood up ; but no ; if I only moved
on one side to peep over, a sudden yell from
the steersman, accompanied by a flourish of the
braining-club—mildly admonitory, no doubt, but
vastly significant—ensured instant obedience. I
forgot cold, wet, and fright, and indeed everything but the all-absorbing excitement attendant on this ocean-chase. The skill and tact of uneducated men, pitted against a huge sea-monster
of tenfold strength, was a sight a lover of sport
would travel any distance to witness.
Slowly and steadily the sturdy paddlers worked
towards the shore, towing the fish, but keeping
the canoe stern-first, so as to be enabled to pay
out line and follow him, should he suddenly grow
restive: in this way the Indians gradually coaxed
the flat monster towards the beach; a weak,
powerless, exhausted giant, outwitted, captured,
and subdued, prevented from diving into his deep-
sea realms by, what were to him, anything but
life-buoys. We beached him at last, and he yielded
his life to the knife and club of the redskin.
I believe the species to be the Pleuronectes
hippoglossus of Linnaeus, but of this I am by no
means perfectly clear, as I had only an opportunity of examining this single specimen, that I estimated as weighing over 300 lbs.; and it was 150
I nlr
quite impossible to investigate its specific character, inasmuch as the Indians immediately
set to work to cut the body in pieces, some to be
there and then devoured, after a very brief roasting on a temporary fire; the remainder, packed
into the canoe,was taken to the village.
Halibut are said to spawn in the middle of
February; the roe, which is bright red, being esteemed a great dainty by all the Coast Indians.
Cod.—The true Cod, although I never saw it
7 O
offered for sale in the Victoria market, is taken
both at the northern extremity of Vancouver
Island, and near Cape Flattery, at its southern
end. The Indians fish for them with hooks and
lines, and adopt very much the same system
for landing heavy obstinate fish as I have already
described as used to subdue the halibut. No
regular system of deep sea fishing had, when I
left the island, been tried by white men; neither
had the trawl ever dragged up the treasures hidden at the bottom; so that deep-sea fish are still
comparatively unknown. But of this I am quite
sure—whenever fisheries are established along
the island coasts, the trawl and deep-sea line,
used by experienced hands, will bring up treasures
from mines of wealth as jet unworked, to which
gold and fur are nothing.
© ©
Dogfish—The Western Dogfish (Acanthius
Suckleyi), Grd., Proc. Acad., Nat. Sc. Phil., vii.
1854.—Sp. Ch.: Head contained in a sixth of
the entire length; snout blunt, nostrils near to
its apex. Eye large and bright, sea-green in the
newly-taken fish. Anterior margin of the first
dorsal, midway betwixt the pupil and anterior
margin of the second dorsal. Colour reddish
brown, above thickly spotted with white, overspread with bronze reflections.
This most predaceous race of sharks, although
they never grow to a size dangerous to man, are
nevertheless most bloodthirsty and implacable
enemies to all the finny tribes inhabiting the
waters of the North-west. They appear to live
everywhere, in every harbour, up the long inland
canals, in the lagoons, and nearly as far as the
tide flows; the dogfish is ever to be found up
the tidal rivers. Hunting in packs like wolves,
they often chase a shoal of fish upon the shingle,
then bite and maim six times as many as they
can possibly eat. I have often seen them seize
dead and even wounded birds, drag them below
the surface, and tear them into shreds.
Angling where there are dogfish, and it is hard
© © O >
to discover a spot where they are not plentiful, is
simply to waste time, and lose one's temper; your
Jr ill
bait hardly touches the water ere it is gorged,
and an ugly dogfish dangles at the end of the line.
To unhook the thief is a service of danger, unless
knocked senseless, and his fearfully-armed jaws
are propped open with a piece of stick.   But, with
all his faults, the dogfish is most useful and valuable to the Indians, who spear incredible numbers, split them, and take out their livers.   From
these fatty livers a quantity of clear oil is extracted, by heat and pressure, applied in such a
clumsy manner, that at least one-third is wasted.
I was credibly informed that one small tribe of
Indians, living on the west coast of Vancouver
Island, by their bungling process of oil-making,
managed to obtain seven cwt. of oil in one season : surely oil making alone would pay a company a handsome return for a judicious outlay
of skill and capital.    Several naval surgeons have
assured me they had fairly tested its curative
powers—in diseases where oil is said to be efficacious—and found it in  every respect  quite
equal to the finest cod-liver oil.
Whilst occupied in collecting the fishes previously described, the Honourable Hudson's Bay
Company's steamer 'Otter' was about to make
her us al  trip  to  Fort  Rupert,   in  order  to
carry up the necessary supplies to the chief
trader in charge of the fort, and bring back to
Victoria the furs traded during the year. Being
a good opportunity to visit so remote a part of
Vancouver Island (not accessible, at that time,
in any other way), leave was obtained from His
Excellency the Governor, and a passage provided
for me.
On a bright but   cold morning  in October
© ©
the ' Otter' twisted, puffed, and worked her way
through the somewhat intricate passage leading
out of Victoria Harbour. Leaving the harbour,
the scenery opens out like a magnificent panorama, indescribably wild and beautiful. In front,
the sharp jagged mountains of the coast range,
wooded to the sea-line, tower in the far distance
to the regions of eternal snow; to the left, the
rounder hills of the island slope easily to the
water's edge, in grassy glades and lawnlike openings, belted with scrub-oaks; higher up, the hillsides are overshadowed by the Douglas pines
and cedars; whilst just visible in our course, like
a green speck, is the famed island of St. Juan;
and bending away to the right, as far as eye
could reach, dense forests look like one vast
unbroken sea of green.
We had a delightful run along the coast and
amidst islands, and anchored in the evening near Ill ■
Hi Si
fl'Hl  |
the narrows.    These same narrows are only used
by the initiated as a short cut, being too risky
for large vessels navigated by unskilled hands.
There is a channel, a quarter of a mile long and
seventy yards wide, between a small island and
the Island of Vancouver.    Through this rocky
canal the tide rushes with fearful velocity.    We
ran it safely in the morning, although it struck me
as being the most ticklish bit of navigation I ever
© ©
experienced. Through these narrows, we were
soon in Nainimo, where we called for a supply
of coals; the town, at this early stage of its history, consisting of about a dozen log-shanties,
inhabited by the coal-miners and employes of
the fur-trading establishment.
Whilst' coaling,' a deputation of Indian braves,
headed by a young chief, waited on the captain
of the steamer. Squatted in a circle on the deck,
and the all-essential pipe smoked, the object of
their visit was disclosed. The Fort Rupert
Indians, residing at the Indian village and trading-
post we were en route to visit, had very recently
made a raid on the Nainimo savages. In the foray,
the old chief had been killed, several braves seriously injured, and, what was worse than all,
the favourite wife of the deceased dignitary had
been seized, and carried off a slave.    The young
chief, it seems, had loved the wife of his predecessor,
and was willing to pay any ransom for his lost
darling. After a long 'wa-wa' (talk), the captain
consented to effect a purchase, if possible, and
bring back, on our return, the lost one to the
arms of her sable lover.
We had a pleasant run across the Gulf of
Georgia, and anchored at 10 p.m. in Billings'
Harbour (much like, a small duck-pond), in
Faveda Island. The next morning, again under
weigh at 6 a.m., raining, as the captain said,
' marlinespikes,' we steamed past a group of
islands, behind which is Malospina Strait. From
this strait, Jar vis's Inlet runs like an immense
canal for a distance (I believe) of fifty miles
Here the gulf widens out like the open sea,
and little can be seen of the land until the extreme south-east point of Valdes Island is reached,
known as Point Mudge, betwixt which and Vancouver Island is a narrow channel, not more
than a mile in width, called Discovery Passage.
About a mile from its entrance, we passed a
large Indian village, the home of the Tah-cul-tas,
a powerful band, of most predatory habits, and
generally at war with the different tribes north
and south of them; they  own a large fleet  of 156
■ ■
canoes, a great many slaves, and scalp and plunder all they can lay hands on.
For a distance of fourteen miles Discovery
Passage is much the same width, until reaching
Menzies Bay, where the rapids commence. At
the base of these rapids, the channel, barely a
quarter of a mile wide, suddenly opens out into
a large pond-like space. The tide rushes down
the narrow passage at the rate of ten knots an
hour, and to get up through it was as much
as our little steamer could accomplish. Panting
and struggling, and sometimes hardly moving,
at others she was carried violently against the
shore, until by slow degrees she breasted the
current and got safely through. I could not help
wondering, how Captain Vancouver ever managed
to get his ship up this terrible place, so difficult
even when aided by the power of steam.
Above the rapids the passage again widens to
Point Chatham, the north-west termination of
Discovery Passsge. We puff by Thurlow Island,
divided from Valdes Island by the Nodales
Canal, and anchor in a snug harbour named
Blenkinsop's Anchorage. We start again at sunup, the fifth morning since leaving Victoria.
As we steamed steadily along through Johnston's Straits, I could recall to my remembrance JOHNSTON S  STRAITS,
no scenery that was comparable, in wild grandeur and picturesque grouping, to the scenery
on my left. The coast-line of Vancouver Island
presented a series of small projecting headlands;
the bays and creeks between, seldom rippled by
the breeze, are very Edens for wildfowl. In
the background, the hills rise sharp and conical,
at this time crowned with snow, but all alike
densely timbered. In the distance, Hardwicke
Island, like a floating emerald, hid the water
beyond it. To the right, islands of all sizes
and shapes, so thick that one might suppose it
had rained islands at some time or other: on
the least of them grew pine-trees, any of which
would have made a mainmast for the largest
ship ever built. I have again and again threaded
the intricate passages through the 'Lake of a
Thousand Islands,' in the Great St. Lawrence;
but I say, without fear of contradiction, that
the scenery from Chatham Point to the mouth
of the Nimkish river is wilder, bolder, and in
every respect more beautiful, lovely as I admit
the Canadian scenery to be.
The ship-channel hugs the shore of Vancouver
Island, passing close to Cormorant, Haddington,
and Malcolm Islands, and the mouth of the
Nimkish river, navigable for canoes some Con
d 158
siderable distance. This stream is used by the
Hudson's Bay traders to reach the western side
of Vancouver Island. Ascending it in canoes
as far as practicable, about two days' walking
brings them to Nootka Sound.
At the mouth of the river, I saw the village of
the Nimkish Indians, situated on a table-land
overhanging the sea, and inaccessible save by
ascending a vertical cliff of smooth rock—a feat
nothing but a fly could manage, unaided; but
the redskins have a ladder, made of cedar-bark
rope, which they can haul up and lower at will.
The ladder up, the place is impregnable. Safe
themselves, they can quietly bowl over their
enemies, and sink their canoes.
These Nimkish Indians speak of another tribe
that they call Sau-kau-lutuck, who have never
seen or traded with white people. Their story,
as interpreted for me by Mr. Moffat, the chief
trader at Fort Rupert—who told me he quite
believed it to be true—was as follows:—
'In crossing over to the west side of the island,
on a war-path, the Nimkis discovered these Indians by accident, took several of them prisoners,
whom they subsequently used as slaves, taking
also skins, and what other property they had
worth plundering.    They are said to live on the
edge of a lake, and subsist principally on deer
and bear, and such fish as they can take in the
lake. They own no canoes, neither do they
know the use of firearms, their only weapons
being the bow, arrow, and spear.'
The wind came on to blow as we left this
interesting spot, and soon increased to a gale
from the south-east, making the Otter rock most
unpleasantly in the cradle of the deep. About
10 a.m. we ran into Beaver Harbour, our destination.     This so-called harbour, being  nothing
' o ©
more than an open roadstead, is disagreeably
rough; a heavy sea rolls angrily in, dashing in
foamy breakers on the rocky coast.
We anchor about a mile from shore, the
captain deeming it unsafe to venture nearer.
To announce our arrival, a gun is to be fired:
this, I observed, was rather a service of danger
to the sailor who had to touch it off, as it was
just an equal chance whether the bulk of the
charge came through the barrel or the touch-
o o
hole; the latter having become so capacious from
rust and long usage, as to necessitate the em-
© ©     7
ployment of an enormously long wand, with a
piece of lighted slow-match tied to the end of it.
All hands having cleared away, and carefully
concealed themselves, the wand slowly appears
': <B
i 160
from a secure hiding-place, and the wheezy bang
proclaims ' all's safe.'
The report was still echoing through the
distant hills, when countless tiny specks were
discernible, dancing over the waves like birds.
On they came, a perfect shoal of them, nearer
and nearer, all evidently bound for the ship. I
could make out clearly now, that these specks
were canoes filled with Indians. By this time
our boat was lowered; how I got into it, I never
clearly remember: I have a dim recollection of
descending a rope with great rapidity, and
finding myself sprawling in the bottom, and
being dragged up by the captain, much after
the fashion adopted by clowns in a pantomime to
reinstate the prostrate pantaloon upon his legs.
At any rate I was safe, and the boat, propelled
by four sturdy rowers, n eared the shore.
On looking round, I observed the canoes had
all turned towards us, and we were soon surrounded by the most extraordinary fleet I had
ever beheld. The canoes were of all sizes, varying from those used for war purposes, holding thirty men, to the cockleshell paddled by a
squaw. With the exception of a bit of. skin, or
an old blanket tied round the waist, the savages
were all perfectly nude ; their long black hair
hung in tangled elf-locks down their backs, their
faces and bodies painted in most fantastic patterns, with red and white. Keeping steadily
along with us, they continually relieved their
feelings by giving utterance to the most wild
and fiendish yells that ever came from human
As we neared the landing, I could see the chief
trader of the Hudson's Bay Company, conspicuously white amidst a group of redskins, waiting
to receive us.    The boat grated on the shingle
© ©
some distance from the beach, white with spray.
' Surely you don't expect me to go ashore like
a seal? ' I appealingly enquired of the captain.
Before he had time to reply, four powerful
savages, up to their waists in water, fisted me out
of the boat; and two taking my heels, and two
my shoulders, they bore me safely to the. shore.
Having handed my letters of introduction from
his Excellency the Governor to the chief trader,
I was presented to the chiefs as a Hyas tyee
(great chief), one of' King George's' men. So we
shook hands, and I attempted to move towards
the fort; it was not to be done. To use the
mildest term, I was ' mobbed;' old savages and
young savages, old squaws and young squaws,
even to boy and girl savage, rushed and scrambled
to shake hands with me.   Had I been a ' pump'
on a desert, surrounded by thirst-famished Indians, and each arm a handle, they could not
have been more vigorously plied. Being rescued
at last by the combined efforts of trader and
captain, I was marched into the fort, the gates
shut with a heavy clang, and most thankful was
I to be safe from any further demonstrations of
friendship. The evening passed rapidly and
pleasantly; mine host was a thorough sportsman,
full of anecdote, and hospitable to a fault.
Awaking early, I wandered out, and up into
the bastion of the fort. The sun was creeping
from behind the ragged peaks of the Cascade
Mountains, tinting with rosy light their snow-
clad summits; the wind had lulled, or gone off
to sea on some boisterous errand; the harbour,
quite smooth, looked like burnished silver.
There was a wild grandeur about the scene, that
awoke feelings of awe rather than admiration;
everywhere vast piles of craggy mountains, clad
from the snow-line to the sea with dense pine-
forests ; not an open grassy spot, or even a naked
mass of rock, peeped out to break the fearful
monotony of these interminable hills.
The trading-post is a square, enclosed by immense trees, one end sunk in the ground; the
trees are lashed together.    A platform, about the THE  TRADING-POST.
height of an ordinary man from the top of these
pickets, is carried along the sides of this square,
so as to enable anyone to peep over without
being in danger from an arrow or bullet. The
entrance is closed by two massive gates, an inner
and outer; all the houses—the chief trader's,
employes', trading-house, fur-room, and stores—
are within the square. The trade-room is
cleverly contrived so as to prevent a sudden
rush of Indians; the approach, from outside the
pickets, is by a long narrow passage, bent at an
acute angle near the window of the trade-room,
and only of a sufficient width to admit one savage
at a time. (This precaution is necessary, inasmuch as, were the passage straight, they would
inevitably shoot the trader.)
At the angles nearest the Indian village are
© o
two bastions, octagonal in shape, and of a very
doubtful style of architecture. Four embrasures
in each bastion would lead the uninitiated to
believe in the existence of as many formidable
cannon, with rammers, sponges,* neat piles of
round-shot and grape, magazines of powder, and
ready hands to load and fire—and, at the slightest
symptom of hostility, to work havoc and destruction, on any red-skinned rebels daring to
dispute the  supremacy  of the  Hudson's  Bay
M  2
, if i
ill ■ 164
Company. Imagine my surprise, on entering this
fortress, to discover all this a pleasant fiction;
two small rusty carronades, buried in the accumulated dust and rubbish of years, that no
human power could load, were the sole occupants
of the mouldy old turrets.
The bell for breakfast recalling me, I jokingly
inquired of the trader if he had ever been obliged
to use this cannon for defensive purposes. He
laughed as he replied, ' There is a tradition that,
at some remote period, the guns were actually
fired, not at the rebellious natives, but over their
heads; instead of being terror-stricken at the
white man's thunder, away they all scampered in
pursuit of the ball, found it, and, marching in
triumph back to the fort-gate, offered to trade it,
that it might be fired again!'
© © .
Breakfast finished, the trader, captain, and
myself started for the village. Clear of the
gates, we scrambled down a rocky path, crossed
a mountain-burn, dividing the Indians from the
fort, and entered ' the city of the redskins;' which
consists of a long row of huts, each hut nearly
square, the exterior fantastically frescoed in
hieroglyphic patterns, in white, red, and blue;
having however a symbolical meaning or heraldic
© J ©
value, like the totum of the Indians east of the CITY  OF  THE  REDSKINS.
Rocky Mountains; four immense trees, barked
and worked smooth, support each corner; the tops
are carved to resemble some horrible monster:
the hut is constructed of cedar-plank, chipped
from the solid tree with chisels and hatchets
made of stone: many hands combine to accomplish this; hence a hut becomes the joint property of several families. Five tribes live in
this village:—
Qua-kars, numbering about 800 warriors.
Qual-quilths      „ „      100        „
Kum-ciites         „ „       70        „
Wan-lish            „ „       50        „
Lock-qua-lillas „ „       80        „
The entire population, even to the dogs,
turned out on our advent; it was puzzling to
imagine where they all came from. We soon
formed the centre of the vilest assemblage man
ever beheld. The object of our visit made known,
a ring was immediately formed by chiefs and
braves, the squaws and children being outside.
Had any charming princess, captive in an enchanted castle, been guarded by such a collection of painted ragamuffins as now surrounded
us, he would have been a valorous knight that
dared venture to release her.
The first question discussed being the price, a
1 fl
l 166
much larger sum was asked than we felt disposed
to pay. Although the slave belonged solely to
one Indian, the power to sell resting with him
only, still every one had their say. Men
gurgled and spluttered strange unintelligible
noises, women chattered and screamed like furies,
whilst children engaged in small battles outside
O    ©
the ring.
Thirty blankets and two trade-guns—equal to
about 501.  sterling—were the   terms   at  last
agreed on.   We then adjourned to the shed where
the slave was a prisoner.    I was in a great state
of expectation, picturing to myself an Indian
Hebe, limbs exquisitely moulded, native grace
and elegance in  every movement, gorgeous in
© j ©   ©
' wampum,' paint, and waving feathers, such as
I had read of as ' Laughing Water,' or ' Prairie
©     ©
Being carried, so to speak, into the shed—a
waif in the stream of savages rushing like a
human torrent to get in—with all the breath
squeezed out of me, I was deposited somewhere;
but as my head was enveloped in a dense cloud
of pungent smoke, it was some time ere I discovered I was close to the captain. ' Sit down,'
he roared; 'you will die of suffocation if you
keep your head in the smoke.'    At once I seated INTERIOR  OF  AN INDIAN LODGE.
myself on the floor, and now quite understand
what being suffocated in a chimney is like.
Once more enabled to see, it was easy to discover the secret: there being no place for the
smoke to escape, it accumulates at the top of the
shed, and one literally, not figuratively, 'lives
under a cloud.' There was a hum and a burr,
as in a nest of angry hornets; a din increased by the dogs, that fought and rolled • in
where I sat; and being by no means particular
whether they bit my legs or any other man's,
it required unwonted agility to keep clear.
During an interval of peace, it was easy to
make out that the slave was coming. Alas! how
fleeting are imaginary pictures—poetic dreams—
castles in the air! Half crouching, and waddling
rather than walking, came my ideal; her only
covering, a ragged, filthy old blanket, her face
begrimed with the dirt and paint of a lifetime ;
short, fat, repulsive, the incarnation of ugliness,
a very Hecate! All my romance vanished like a
dissolving-view. For this had I been squeezed
nearly to death, suffocated, poisoned with a
noxious stench, my legs imperilled by infuriated
curs, my ears deafened, half devoured by insatiable blood-suckers?—to aid in paying 501, for the
ugliest old savage eyes ever beheld!
dl'/ 168
All the chiefs assembled at the fort in the
evening to receive payment, and hand over the
slave. Squatting on their heels, nose and knees
together, their backs against the wall,* they
formed a circle. The pipe produced (nothing
can be done without it); I say pipe, for one
only is used; filled and lighted, it passes from
mouth to mouth; each, taking a good pull, puffs
the smoke slowly from his nostrils. The thirty
blankets and two guns being piled in the centre
of this strange assemblage, the slave was led
in. Each blanket underwent a most careful
inspection ; the guns, snapped and pointed, were
finally approved of. A husky grunt, from each
of the council, denoting general approval, the
guns and blankets were carried off in triumph,
and we became the fortunate possessors of this
strange purchase.
Whilst in the fort I was tolerably exempt
froiri the insatiable and most annoying curiosity, that induces Indians to watch everything
a stranger does. One oily old chief, however,
always contrived to get into my room in time to
see me dress. He used to stalk in, squat down
rolled in a dirty blanket, and testify his pleasure
by a series of grunts slightly varied in tone.
He   was   certainly the   most  blubbery-looking AN  OILY  OLD  CHIEF.
man I ever beheld. Everything about him was
suggestive of oil, from his head to his heels,
blanket included; like a compound of salmon
and seal's flesh, he smelt quite as. oily as he
looked. Outside, however, there was no help for
it: go where I would, a bodyguard of savages
(real untamed savages too, not semi-civilised
articles) was always in attendance.
Once I managed to escape through the pickets
at the back of the fort, and stealthily reaching the
beach, under cover of the trees, imagined myself
safe. A light misty rain fell thickly, and a
flock of sanderlings, running along in the ripple,
completely absorbed my attention. I was suddenly startled by hearing the ' crunch, crunch' of
a foot in the shingle behind me. I had looked
right and left on reaching the beach, but not a
trace of Indian was visible. Turning suddenly
round, you can picture my surprise at finding myself face to face with a savage, unclad frorii head
to heel, carrying—what should you imagine?—not
a scalping-knife, or a war-club, or bow or spear
or gory scalp: it was an immense green gingham
umbrella, a thoroughbred ' Gamp,' with horn
crook, battered brass ferule, furled with a ring
such as curtains are hung on. He politely
offered me a part, and scarcely deeming it safe
to 'refuse, I paraded the beach, linked arm-inarm with the ugliest specimen of humanity eyes
ever beheld. I wonder if, before or since, a naked
savage and civilised man ever walked together
o ©
on-the sea-beach, listening to 'what the  wild
7 ©
waves were saying,' sheltered from the rain by a
green gingham umbrella! I trow not. I should
have been no more astonished at seeing a seal, or
old Neptune himself, with an umbrella, than I
was at a naked Indian so protected on the beach
at Fort Rupert.
This was not my only adventure whilst staying at the fort. The beach runs out very flat
for a long distance seaward; the rocks appear
a slaty kind of shingle, with seams of coal cropping out in every direction. The pines (Abies
Douglassii) grow down to highwater-mark, attaining a height of 250 feet and over, straight
as a flagstaff. On the branches are placed
quaint-looking affairs, that you discover, on inquiry, to be coffins; but how the friends of
the departed get the boxes up into the trees, or
how they keep them there when they are up,
is more than I can tell. The coffin is usually an old canoe, lashed round and round,
like an Egyptian mummy-case, with the inner
bark  of the cedar-tree;  but of this, and other ARBOREAL  CEMETERIES.
singular customs, I shall have to speak more at
length in a future chapter.
Near one of these arboreal cemeteries, I observed a high pole, and dangling from it a head,
fresh, bloody, and ghastly; the scalp had been
removed, and a rope, passing through the under-
jaw, served to suspend it. Horribly revolting as
the face appeared, still I could not help going
close to it. Never had I seen so singular a
head; it looked in shape like a sugarloaf, the
apex of the skull terminating in a sharp point.
On returning to the fort, I inquired if they could
tell me anything about this mysterious head.
It appeared that, a day or so before our arrival,
a war-party of the Qua-kars had returned from
a raid on the mainland coast, and brought with
them a number of slaves. (Prisoners taken in
war, or in any other manner, are invariably used
as slaves, bought and sold, whipped or killed,
as best befits the whim or caprice of their
owner.) Amongst the wretched captives, was a
chief. Soon after landing, he was made fast
to a temporary cross erected on the beach, shot,
scalped, and beheaded, and it was his head I
had seen in my rambles. On hearing further
that the tribe to which he belonged was one
that elongate instead of flatten the head, I de- 172
termined at any risk to have the skull.* Extreme caution was needed, or a like fate would
probably be mine; a white chief's hairless head
might possibly adorn the same pole as that of
the painted savage. I made several attempts,
but each time signally failed to accomplish my
The night preceding our departure, all hopes
of obtaining the coveted head were nearly abandoned. Fortune at last smiled upon me; unobserved, I upset -the pole, and bagged the head;
and pushing it into my game-bag, got safely into
the fort. Still in terror of being seen. I hid it in
the bastion, and eventually headed it into a pork
barrel, with stones and sand; then had it rolled
boldly out, and put on board the steamer.
On our departure the following  morning, I
was  rejoiced to  find the  head  had not been
missed, but  somewhat  frightened, on learning
I  was  to  be paddled  to  the steamer, in the
state-canoe of the  chief to  whom the  trophy
belonged.    In   grand' procession,  we  marched
from   the   fort   to   the   canoe,  marshalled   by
the dingy dignitary,  who, in happy ignorance
of the wrong I had done him, was all smiles
and grins; the final hand-shaking being accom-
©       > © ©
* Vide Illustration, j      \ 1      / (T*3 DEPARTURE FROM FORT RUPERT.
plished, I was lifted into the canoe in the same
fashion as I had been previously lifted out, and
rapidly reached the steamer.
The chief came on board the steamer whilst
the anchor was being weighed.    Imagine what
© O ©
I felt when he seated himself deliberately upon
the cask wherein I had hid his property. The
wished-for moment came, the wheels splashed
slowly round, my plundered friend was bowed
over the side, and not until the smoke of the
lodge-fires, and the fading outline of the village,
grew dim in the distance, did I feel my scalp
safe. The head is now in the Osteological
Room of the British Museum, and well worth
investigation by any who may be curious to
compare the effect of circular pressure with
that of the flat-head.* Skulls similarly flattened
were also brought by me from Vancouver Island.
We again called at Nanaimo on our return,
and,  whilst 'coaling,' delivered  the  ransomed
lady safely into the hands of her owner. At
the same time three hundred Indians from Queen
Charlotte's Island landed, en route to Victoria,
arriving  in  large  canoes,   each holding  about
© © ©
twenty Indians and their baggage. These
canoes were not at all similar to any I had seen
* Vide Illustration.
L\ 174
at Fort Rupert, or to those used by the Coast and
Fraser river Indians. The shape was similar to
the boats one sees in very old pictures, filled
with sailors in armour, the bow and stern
carved to represent a neck, bearing on it some
hideous grinning monster's head.
Their chief, named Edin-saw, once saved the
crew of a small schooner, the ' Susan Sturges,'
from being killed by the islanders under his
control. The vessel was wrecked on Queen
Charlotte's Island, and the crew subsequently
ransomed. This little army of savages reached
Victoria safely, having taken four months to
make the voyage; threading all the difficult and
dangerous straits, with the risk of capture from
other tribes, exposed to all the vicissitudes of
weather, in open canoes as easily upset as a child's
Reaching Victoria in safety, I proceeded up
the Fraser, and for the first time witnessed
sturgeon-spearing. STURGEON-SPEARING.
The Sturgeon found in North-western waters
differs only in some unimportant specific distinctions from the one living in the pond of the
Zoological Society's Gardens, in the Regent's
Park. Accipenser transmontanus is the name
given by Sir J. Richardson to sturgeon that
frequent rivers that flow into the St. Lawrence,
on the east side of the Rocky Mountains, but
unknown in streams that fall into the Arctic
Ocean. On the western side sturgeon abound
in the Columbia, Fraser, and most other rivers
as far north as lat. 53° N. It is certainly not a
handsome fish to look at, reminding one of a
shark in armour; yet, clad as he is from head
to tail in bony mail, every movement is easy
and graceful.
Sp. Ch.—Five rows of plates encase the body:
the row along the back is most prominent, and
contains fifteen shields.    The cheeks are flat, the
ill 176
h ';&»
snout terminating in an acute point, remarkably flexible and trunklike in its movements.
Four barbels dangle from beneath the snout,
situated about mid-distance between its point
and the orbit. The mouth is underneath,
resembling a huge flabby sucker in the freshly-
caught fish. Nevertheless, as his habit is to
prowl about the mud and gravel at the bottom,
it is in reality the very best kind of mouth
that could have been given. The barbels that
hang before are clearly delicate feelers, intended
to give warning, that game suitable for food—
disturbed probably by the flexible nose—is near;
the nose is employed to stir up the mud, turn
over stones, or in exploring the hiding-places
of prey amidst the rocks and heavy boulders.
The eyes are small and golden-yellow in the
newly-caught fish, but change immediately after
The great extent and strength of the pectorals,
which are nearly horizontal, show us that, in
addition to their acting as oars and rudder, they
are also powerful assistants in bringing the great
fleshy mouth to bear upon anything discovered
by the barbels. Female fish are taken full of
roe in the Fraser during the month of June, and
sometimes later; but where they deposit the ova THE  STURGEON.
or what becomes of the young after leaving the
eggs, are mysteries. I never saw a small sturgeon, but have no doubt most of the young
fish descend to the sea, although it is equally
certain numbers remain entirely in the freshwater. Madame Sturgeon's family is by no
means a  small one: a bushel of eggs  is  not
an unusual quantity for a female fish to yield;
a great many thousands, although I do not
know how many eggs a bushel contains. The
Indians dry these eggs in the sun and devour
them with oil, as we eat currants and cream.
It would surely pay to prepare cauiare on the
Russian plan, even to send it to the English
market.    A rough kind of isinglass was at one
© ©
time prepared by the Fraser river Indians and
traded by the Hudson's Bay Company, but even
that branch of industry has ceased to flourish
since the ' Golden Age.' Indians are exceedingly fond of sturgeon-flesh, and usually demand
a high price for it.
Few fish have a wider geographical range than
sturgeon. On our own coasts, we find them
frequenting the mouths of rivers and muddy
estuaries. When caught in the Thames, within
the jurisdiction of the lord mayor of London,
it is considered a royal fish; implying, that the
vol. I. n
i 178
fish ought to be sent to the king, though how far
the sovereign's rights in the matter are actually
considered, seems to be somewhat doubtful.
It is said, however, that the sturgeon was exclusively reserved for the table of the king in
the time of Henry I.
In the Fraser and Columbia rivers, and in all
the streams of any magnitude from latitude
46°19/ N. to Sitka, latitude 53° N., the sturgeon
is found abundantly; as also in Northern Asia,
where it forms an article of vast commercial
value, the well-known and much-prized caviare
being made from its roe, and that almost indispensable household necessary, isinglass, from
its air-bladder. The long ligamentous cord,
traversing the entire length of the spine, constitutes another delicacy, called vesiga, much
relished by the Russians. The flesh also is
eaten, cooked in various ways, and held in no
mean estimation. Turkey, Italy, Germany, and
Greece (especially the two latter) are great markets for caviare.
Pliny speaks of the sturgeon as being in great
repute among the Greeks and Romans: ' the
cooked fish was decked with garlands, as were
the slaves who carried it to table;' and altogether
it was an affair of great pomp and ceremony, when
a sturgeon was to be demolished. THE  STURGEON.
Sturgeon arrive in the Columbia early in February, and a little later in the Fraser, although
a great number above the Kettle Falls, at Fort
Colville, must remain permanently in the freshwater. They ascend the rivers to incredible
distances, in the Fraser as high as Fraser Lake,
quite up in the Rocky Mountains. In the Columbia sturgeon have been taken eight hundred
miles above the Kettle Falls, which are, speaking
roughly, eighteen hundred miles from the sea,
and, in accomplishing this, several very serious
obstacles have to be overcome. Up the Snake
river, at the great Shoshonee Falls (a salmon-
station of the Snake Indians), sturgeon are often
taken. The Snake river, tributary to the Columbia, is about fourteen hundred miles from
the sea.
One would never imagine a fish clad in stiff
unyielding armour could ascend rapid torrents
and leap falls that puzzle even the lissom salmon;
but the strength of the sturgeon is immense, and
the power it can exert with the tail would be
almost incredible to those, who have never seen
the rapid twists, plunges, and other performances
this fish goes through, when it has a barbed
hook in the jaws, or a spear between the joints of
its mail. 180
■ ,i«
The  first   glance at  a sturgeon  would  lead
any one accustomed to fish, to decide at  once
that it must be a ground-feeder: the form and
position  of the  mouth,   the  lengthened snout,
the  barbels,  the ventral fins so  far back,   the
large size of the pectorals — as I have already
stated—all clearly evidence a habit of grubbing-
up food of various kinds near the bottom, and
browsing off shelled molluscs adhering to sticks
© ©
or stones. They also indulge in small fish:
•eulachon are oily dainties they seem particularly
to appreciate; and the Indians say sturgeon are
never so fat and good as in 'eulachon time.'
Small blame to the sturgeon for appreciating
such delicious fish.
During  the time  the Fraser and Columbia
rivers are rising,—and the rise is very rapid,
about thirty feet above the winter level, owing to
the melting snow,—sturgeon are continually leaping. As you are paddling quietly along in a canoe,
"suddenly one of these monsters flings itself into
the air many feet above the surface of the water,
falling back again with a splash, as though a
huge rock had been pitched into the river by some
Titan hand. It appears to be only play, as they
never leap for insect-food; neither have I ever
observed them do it during low-water; perhaps THE   STURGEON
the intense cold of the snow-water begets a desire
for exercise.
The systems of catching sturgeon in use
amongst the Indians of the Fraser and Columbia
rivers are widely different, as indeed are all
their modes of taking fish. This mainly arises
from the fact of the Columbia river having numerous deep falls, that impede the ascent of all
fish going up to spawn. These falls, as I have
said, are quite impassable for even the salmon
until the snow-water floods the river. The
Fraser, on the other hand, offers no hindrance
at all until after Fort Hope is passed, and the
principal Indian fishing-stations are all below
this point: hence it is that on the Columbia, the
fish, both salmon and sturgeon, are speared,
trapped in baskets or weirs, and the sturgeon
also taken with hook and line; whereas, on the
Fraser, salmon are principally taken in nets, and
sturgeon speared.
I shall first describe the mode adopted by the
Indians of the Columbia to catch sturgeon with
hook and line. The best months for fishing
are February and March, and the time of day
either early in the morning, or late in the evening.
The Dalles is a favourite fishing-station.
The first thing is to prepare the bait.   The old
I 182
wooden fish-hook is now amongst the things that
© O
were, its place having been supplied by its
civilised Birmingham brother, bartered by the
Indians from the Hudson's Bay Company. The •
fishing line is either made of native hemp, or the
inside bark of the cypress-tree spun into cord.
The bait is a long strip cut from the underside of a trout, at one end of which the point of
the hook is inserted; the strip being then wound
tightly and evenly round the hook, and up the
fine about three inches, the silvery side outermost. It is then firmly whipped over with
white horsehair, a pebble slung on as a sinker,
and the deception is complete. Five or six long
barbed spears are stowed away in the canoe, the
line coiled carefully in the bow, and the baited
hook laid on it. Two wily redskins man this
frail bark, the paddler squatting on his heels
in the stern, the line-man standing in the bow.
A few skilful turns of the paddle sends the
canoe to the mudbank on which King Sturgeon is dozing, and awaiting his matin or ves-
© ©' ©
per meal. The dainty-looking morsel, bearing
all the external semblance to a fish (but, like
the Trojan horse, pregnant with mischief), sinks
noiselessly and slowly to the bottom; the canoe
drifts with the current, and in this manner the
If 11
bait is towed along ; it nears the sturgeon's nose,
and, being far too tempting to be refused, the
great pendulous lips close upon it; but ere it
reaches the gullet, a sharp twitch of the line
buries the hook in the tenacious gristle. At once
discovering he has been miserably done, anger
and obstinate resistance are in the ascendant;
so he comes to the surface with a rush and a
The paddler now exerts all his skill to keep
a slack line, for the hooked fish would otherwise
inevitably upset the canoe; the bowman, with
the line in one hand and a spear poised in the
other, quietly bides his time; then he hurls the
spear into the sturgeon's armour-clad back; down
darts the fish, but soon returns to the surface,
when in goes another spear, and so on again and
again, until, towed ashore, it is dragged out of
the water with a powerful gaffhook. Large
numbers besides such as are thus speared are
netted in passing through the narrow rock-
On the Fraser river sturgeon-spearing is the
most exciting sport imaginable. Hooking, playing, and landing a noble salmon is an achieve-
,        ©' o
ment every fisherman is truly proud of; but I
unhesitatingly assert that to spear and land a
mumm 184
sturgeon five or six hundred pounds in weight,
with only a frail canoe, which the slightest inequality of balance will upset in an instant,
requires a degree of skill, courage, and dexterity
that only a lifetime's practice can bestow.
I have already said the Fraser has no falls
below Fort Hope, but a great many stiff rapids;
below these rapids it widens out into long slowly-
running shallows, generally speaking having large
sand and gravel-banks—bars, as the miners call
them, and on these bars the Indians live during
the fishing-season.    The time for fishing being
© D ©
generally soon after. sunrise, four canoes, each
manned by two Indians, usually start for sturgeon-capture; the paddler, who squats in the
stern, looks in the direction in which the canoe is
to go, not, as we sit in rowing, with our backs to
the bow, but facing it; he is always chosen for
his greater strength, tact, and dexterity with the
paddle, for on his skill depends in a great degree
the safety and success of the spearman.
The spearman stands in the bow, armed with
a most formidable spear — the handle,* from
seventy to eighty feet long, is made of white pine
wood; fitted on the spear-haft is a barbed point,
in shape very much like a shuttlecock, supposing
* Vide Illustration.  I til
each feather represented by a piece of bone, thickly
barbed, and very sharp at the end. This is so
contrived that it can be easily detached from the
long handle by a sharp dexterous jerk. To this
barbed contrivance a long line is made fast,
which is carefully coiled away close to the spearman, bike a harpoon-line in a whale-boat.
The four, alike equipped, are paddled
into the centre of the stream, and side by side
drift slowly down with the current, each spearman carefully feeling along the bottom with his
spear, constant practice having taught the crafty
savages to know a sturgeon's back when the
spear comes in contact with it. The spear-head
touches the drowsy fish^-a sharp plunge, and
the redskin sends the notched points, through
armour and cartilage, deep into the leather-like
muscles. A skilful jerk frees the long handle
from the barbed end, which remains inextricably
fixed in the fish; the handle is thrown aside,
the line seized, and the struggle begins.
The first impulse is to resist this objectionable
intrusion, so the angry sturgeon comes up to see
what it all means : this curiosity is generally
repaid by having a second spear sent crashing
into him. He then takes a header, seeking
safety in flight, and the real excitement com- 186
mences. With might and main the bowman
plies the paddles, and the spearman pays
out line, the canoe flying through the water.
The slightest tangle, the least hitch, and over it
goes; it becomes, in fact, a sheer trial of paddle
versus fin. Twist and turn as the sturgeon may,
all the canoes are with him: he flings himself out
of the water, dashes through, it, under it, and
skims along the surface; but all is vain—the
canoes and their dusky oarsmen follow all his
,efforts to escape as a cat follows a mouse.
Gradually the sturgeon grows sulky and tired,
obstinately floating on the surface. The savage
knows he is not vanquished, but only biding a
chance for revenge; so he shortens up the line,
and gathers quietly on upon him, to get another
spear in. It is done—and down viciously dives
the sturgeon ; but pain and weariness begin to
tell, the struggles grow weaker and weaker, as
life ebbs slowly away, until the mighty armour-
plated monarch of the river yields himself a
captive to the dusky native in his frail canoe.
The  Clam.—Amongst   the  edible   shellfish
found  on  the coasts of Vancouver Island  and
jBritish Columbia, the Great Clam, as it is there
tatyled (Lutraria maxima), or the Otter-shell of
Jconchologists, is by far the most valuable.   Clams THE  CLAM.
are one of the staple articles of winter food on
which all Indian tribes in a great measure depend who inhabit'the north-west coast of America.
The clam to the Indians is a sort of molluscous
cereal, that they gather and garner during the
summer months; and an outline sketch of this
giant bivalve's habits and style of living, how
captured, and what becomes of it after being
made a prisoner, may be interesting; its habits,
and the uses to which, if not designed, it is at
least appropriated, being generally less known I
than its minute anatomy. Clams attain an immense size; I have measured shells eight inches
from the hinge to the edge of the valve.    We
© ©
used them as soap-dishes at our head-quarters
on Vancouver Island.
The clam has a very wide range, and is thickly
distributed along the mainland and Vancouver
Island coasts; his favourite haunts are the great
sandbanks, that run out sometimes over a mile
from the shore. The rise and fall of the tide
is from thirty to forty feet, so that at low-water
immense flats or beaches, consisting of mud and
sand, are laid bare.
There is nothing poetical about the clam, and
its habits are anything but clean; grovelling in
the mud, and feeding on the veriest filth it can
— 183
find, appears to constitute the great pleasure of
its life; the stomach is a kind of dusthole, into
which anything and everything finds ready admission. Its powers of digestion must be something wonderful; I believe clams could sup on
copper tacks, and not suffer from nightmare.
Spending the greater part of its time buried about
two feet deep, the long syphon, reaching to
the surface, discovers its whereabouts, as the ebbing tide leaves the mud, by continually squirting
up small jets of water, about six or eight inches
high. The sand flats dry, out marches an army
of squaws (Indian women), as it is derogatory
to the dignity of a man to dig clams. With
only a small bit of skin or cedar-mat tied round
the waist, the women tramp through the mud,
a basket made from cedar-root in one hand, and
in the other a bent stick about four feet long.
Thus armed, they begin to dig up the mud-
homes of the unsuspecting clam: guided by the
jets of water, they push down the bent stick,
and experience has taught them to make sure
of getting it well under the shell: placing a
stone behind the stick, against which the squaw
fixes her foot firmly, she lifts away: the clam
comes from darkness into daylight ere he knoAvs
it, and thence into the Indian's basket.    The
basket filled, the clam-pickers trudge back again
to the lodge—and next to open him. He is not
a native to be astonished with an oyster-knife;
once having shut his mouth, no force, saving that
of dashing his shell into atoms, will induce him to
open it. But the wily redskin, if she does not
know the old fable of the wind and the sun trying
their respective powers on the traveller, at least
adopts the same principle on the luckless clam ;
what knife and lever fail to do a genial warmth
accomplishes. The same plan the sun adopted
to make the traveller take off his coat (more
persuasive, perhaps, than pleasant) the Indian
squaw has recourse to in order to make the
clam open his shell.
Hollowing out a ring in the ground, about
© © © '
eight inches deep, they fill the circle with large
pebbles, made red-hot in the camp-fire near
by, and on these heated stones put the bivalve
martyr. The heat soon finds its way through
the shelly armour, the powerful ropes that hold
the doors together slacken, and, as his mansion
gradually grows 'too hot to hold him,' the door
opens a little for a taste of fresh air. Biding
her chance, armed with a long, smooth, sharp-
pointed stick, sits the squaw—dusky, grim, and
dirty—anxiously watching the clam's movements. 190
The stronghold opens, and the clam drinks draught
after draught of the cool life-giving air; then down
upon him the savage pounces, and astonishes his
heated and fevered imagination by thrusting, with
all her force, the long sharp stick into the unguarded house: crash it goes through the quivering tissues; his chance is over ! Jerked off the
heated stones, pitilessly his house is forced open;
ropes, hinges, fastenings crack like packthread,
and the mollusc is ruthlessly dragged from his
shelly home, naked and lifeless.
Having got the clam out, the next, thing
is to preserve it for winter: this is effectually
accomplished by stringing-up and smoking. A
long wooden needle, with an eye at the end, is
-threaded with cord made from native hemp;
and on  this  the  clams  are  strung like dried
apples, and thoroughly smoked, in the interior of
the lodge.   A more effectual smoking-house could
© ©
hardly be found. I can imagine nothing in the
' wide, wide world' half as filthy, loathsome, and
disgusting as the interior of an Indian house.
Every group has some eatable—fish, mollusc,
bird, or animal—and what the men and squaws
do not consume, is pitched to the dusky little
savages, that, naked and dirty, are thick as ants
in a hill; from these the residue descends to the Fl
dogs, and what they leave some lower form of
animal life manages to consume. Nothing eatable that is once brought in is ever by any
chance swept, or carried, out again, and either
becomes some other form of life, or, decomposing, assumes its elemental condition.
An old settler once told me a story, as we
were hunting together, and I think I can vouch
for the truth of what he related, of having
seen a duck trapped by a clam:—' You see, sir,
as I was a-cruising down these flats about
sun-up, the tide jist at the nip, as it is now, I
see a whole pile of shoveller ducks snabbling in
the mud, and busy as dogfish in herring-time ;
so I creeps down, and slap I lets 'em have it:
six on 'em turned over, and off went the pack
gallows-scared, and quacking like mad. Down
I runs to pick up the dead uns, when I see an
old mallard a-playing up all kinds o' antics,
jumping, backing, flapping, but fast by the head,
as if he had his nose in a steel trap; and when I
comes up to him, blest if a large clam hadn't
hold of him, hard and fast, by the beak. The
old mallard might a' tried his darndest, but may
I never bait a martin-trap again if that clam
wouldn't a' held him agin any odds 'til the tide
run in, and then he'd a' been a gone shoveller 192
sure as shooting; so I cracked up the clam
with the butt of my old gun, and bagged the
Any one who has travelled in America must
have eaten clam-chowder, or, more probably perhaps, tried to eat it. It is a sort of intermediate
affair between stew-proper and soup. How it
is made I do not know, but I do know that to
my palate it is the vilest concoction I ever tasted ;
and I always look upon a man who can eat clam-
chowder with a kind of admiration almost akin
to envy; for I feel and know that if he can eat
chowder, short of cannibalism he can eat anything. I have tried smoked clam, but that I
cannot say I enjoy; it is remarkably like chewing good old tarry ropeyarn, and, save the
slight difference in nutritive power, about an
equally agreeable repast.
If any of my readers should be curious to see
the shells of these monster clams, they will find
many I have recently brought home in the Shell
Room of the British Museum.
Mansuckers.—The three kinds of cuttlefish
best known in British seas are, first, the sepia,
the creature whose backbone is the ' cuttlefish'
of the apothecaries' shops ; second, the ' loligo,'
or ' calamary,' that has a beautiful penlike bone, THE  OCTOPUS.
and, from the presence of a bag containing a
black fluid, is sometimes called the ' pen-and-ink '
fish; and third, the ' octopus.'
The octopus as seen on our coasts, although
even here called a ' mansucker' by the fishermen, is a mere Tom Thumb, a tiny dwarf, as
compared to the Brobdignagian proportions he
attains in the snug bays and long inland canals
along the east side of Vancouver Island, as
well as on the mainland. These places afford
lurking - dens, strongholds, and natural sea-
nurseries, where the octopus grows to an
enormous size, fattens, and wages war, with
insatiable voracity, on all and everything it
can catch. Safe from heavy breakers, it lives
as in an aquarium of smooth lake-like water,
that, save  in  the  ebbing  and flowing  of the
/ © O
tide, knows no change or disturbance.
The ordinary resting-place of this hideous
I sea-beast' is under a large stone, or in the wide
cleft of a rock, where an octopus can creep and
squeeze itself with the flatness of a sand-dab, or
the slipperiness of an eel. Its modes of locomotion are curious and varied: using the eight
© ©
arms as paddles, and working them alternately,
the central disc representing a boat, octopi row
themselves   along with   an  ease  and  celerity
VOL. i. o
\ 194
comparable to the many-oared caique that glides
over the tranquil waters of the Bosporus; they
can ramble at will over the sandy roadways intersecting their submarine parks, and, converting
arms into legs, march on like a huge spider.
Gymnasts of the highest order, they climb the
slippery ledges, as flies walk up a window-
pane ; attaching the countless suckers that arm
the terrible limbs to the face of the rocks, or
to the wrack and seaweed, they go about, back
downward, like marine sloths, or, clinging with
one arm to the waving algge, perform series of
trapeze movements that Ledtard might view
with envy.
The size, of course, varies. I have seen and
measured the arm five feet long, and as large at
the base where it joins the central disc as my
wrist; and were an octopus by any chance to
wind its sucker-dotted cable-arms round a luckless bather, fatal would be the embrace, and
horrible to imagine, being dragged down and
drowned by this eight-armed monster; a worse
death than being crushed by coiling serpents like
ill-fated Laocoon.
I have often when on the rocks, in Esquimalt
Harbour, watched my friend's proceedings; the
water being clear and still, it is just like peering THE  OCTOPUS.
into an aquarium of huge proportions, crowded
with endless varieties of curious sea-monsters;
although grotesque and ugly to look at, yet all
alike displaying the wondrous works of Creative
wisdom. In all the cosy little nooks and corners
of the harbour the great seawrack (Macrocystis)
grows wildly, having a straight round stem that
comes up from the bottom, often with a stalk
three hundred feet long; reaching the surface,
it spreads out two long tapering leaves that float
upon the water: this sea-forest is the favourite
hunting-ground of octopi.
I do not think, in its native element, an
octopus often catches prey on the ground or on
the rocks, but waits for them just as the spider
does, only the octopus converts itself into a web,
and a fearful web too. Fastening one arm to
a stout stalk, stiffening out the other seven,
one would hardly know it from the wrack
amongst which it is concealed. Patiently he
bides his time, until presently a shoal of fish
come gaily on, threading their way through the
sea-trees, joyously happy, and little dreaming
that this lurking monster, so artfully concealed,
is close at  hand.    Two or three of them rub
against  the arms:  fatal   touch!    As though a
© ©
powerful electric shock had passed through the
o 2
m 196
fish, and suddenly knocked it senseless, so does
the arm of the octopus paralyse its victim; then,
winding  a great  sucker-clad  cable  round  the
©       ©
palsied fish—as an elephant winds its trunk
round anything to be conveyed to the mouth—
draws the dainty morsel to the centre of the
disc, where the beaked mouth seizes, and soon
sucks it in.
I am perfectly sure, from frequent observation, the octopus has the power of numbing its
prey ; and the sucking-discs along each ray are
more for the purposes of climbing and holding-
bn whilst fishing, than for capturing and detaining slippery prisoners. The suckers are very
large, and arranged in triple rows along the
under-surface of the ray, decreasing in size towards the point, and possessing wonderful powers
of adhesion.
As illustrating the size of these suckers, I may
as well confess to a blunder I once made. It was
an extremely low tide, and I was far out on the
rocks at Esquimalt Harbour, hunting the pools,
when I saw what I fancied a huge actinia,  as
© 7
big as an eggcup, its tentacles hauled in, and,
having detached its disc from the rocks, was
waiting for the tide: placing the fancied prize
safely in my collecting-box,  to my disgust, on THE  OCTOPUS.
examining my new species, it turned out to be
only the sucking-disc of an octopus.
Tyrants though they be, an enemy hunts them
with untiring pertinacity. The Indian looks
upon the octopus as an alderman does on turtle,
and devours it with equal gusto and relish, only
the savage roasts the glutinous carcase instead
of boiling it. His mode of catching octopi is
crafty in the extreme, for redskin well knows,
from past experience, that were the octopus once
to get some of its huge arms over the side of
the canoe, and at the same time a holdfast on the
wrack, it could as easily haul it over as a child
could upset a basket; but he takes care not to give
a chance, and thus the Indian secures his prize.
Paddling the canoe close to the rocks, and
quietly pushing aside the wrack, the savage peers
through the crystal water, until his practised
eye detects an octopus, with its great ropelike
arms stiffened out, waiting patiently for food.
His spear is twelve feet long, armed at the end
with four pieces of hard wood, made harder by
being baked and charred in the fire: these project
about fourteen inches beyond the spear-haft, each
piece having a barb on one side, and are arranged
in a circle round the spear-end, and lashed firmly
on  with   cedar-bark.     Having   spied   out   the 198
octopus, the hunter passes the spear carefully
through the water until within an inch or so of
the centre disc, and then sends it in as deep as he
can plunge it. Writhing with pain and passion,
the octopus coils its terrible arms round the haft;
redskin, making the side of the canoe a fulcrum
for his spear, keeps the struggling monster
well off, and raises it to the surface of the water.
He is dangerous now; if he could get a hold-
© ' ©
fast on either savage or canoe, nothing short
of chopping off the arms piecemeal would be of
any avail.
But the wily redskin knows all this, and has
taken care to have ready another spear un-
barbed, long, straight, smooth, and very sharp,
and with this he stabs the octopus where the
arms join the central disc. I suppose the spear
must break down the nervous ganglions supplying motive power, as the stabbed arms lose at
once strength and tenacity; the suckers, that
a moment before held on with a force ten men
could not have overcome, relax, and the entire
ray hangs like a dead snake, a limp, lifeless
mass. And thus the Indian stabs and stabs,
until the octopus, deprived of all power to do
harm, is dragged into the canoe, a great, inert,
quivering lump of brown-looking jelly.
-^— MULE-HUNTING expedition
The Commission, in 1860, were to commence
the work of marking the boundary-line on the
eastern side of the Cascades. A large addition
to our staff of pack-mules being indispensable,
I was despatched to San Francisco to purchase
them; and instructed to rejoin the Commission,
as soon as practicable, at the Dalles, already,
mentioned as a small town on the upper part of
the Columbia river.
I introduce the journal of my mule-hunting
adventures at this part of the volume, as it
enables me to explain the systems of transport
and travelling resorted to in wild countries,
where roads and railways are unknown. I transcribe my journal, the events of each day as
hastily recorded:—
Feb. 22th, I860.—Left Esquimait Harbour in 200
the steamer ' Panama,'—my destination San
Francisco,—my mission to purchase mules. The
island is still in its winter garb; not a bud has
burst into leaf, and very few migratory birds
have made their appearance. At 10.30 a.m.-we
are steaming out of the harbour; no wind, water
smooth as a lake; run pleasantly down the Straits
of Juan de Fuca, and pass Cape Flattery about
4 p.m. Wind blowing unpleasantly fresh, and a
heavy tumbling swell makes the ' Panama' disagreeably lively. Passengers rapidly disappear;
various gulping sounds, heavy sighs, and impatient calls for the steward, tell clearly enough
that the most terrible leveller next to death, seasickness, has begun its work below.
March 1st.—A bleak misty morning, a heavy
>sea, wind dead ahead, and cold driving hail-
showers. The ship, rolling from side to- side,
renders it difficult for even practised hands to
guide anything spillable to the mouth; and walking, save to a sailor or a housefly, is an impossible performance.
March 2nd.—Managed to scramble on deck
about 7 a.m., by going through a series of acrobatic performances, that came near to dislocating
all my joints; wind moderated, but a heavy sea
still rocked us very rudely.    We are close in- VOYAGE  TO   SAN FRANCISCO.
shore, passing Cape Blanco, 350 miles below Cape
Flattery. Port Orford, a place celebrated for
its cedar, is just visible through the haze; the
rounded hills behind it are quite white with
snow. Kept close inshore all day, but the weather
is too cold, and sea too rough, for one to enjoy
the scenery.
March 3rd.—Scrambled on deck again about
7 a.m.; wind still ahead, but altogether a better
morning than yesterday. Had a good look at
Cape Mendozena, a bold rocky headland, to the
south of which is Mendozena city, consisting of
a few houses and a groggery. The coast-line
is exceedingly picturesque and pretty: between
this headland and Point Arena a series of undulating hills, capped with massive pine-trees;
their sides and grassy slopes, reaching down to
the sea-line, remind me of English hay fields; it
seems almost like enchantment, the change in
the vegetation three days only from Vancouver
March 4th.—At sunrise I am on deck, called
by the captain, to get a peep at the ' Golden
Gate.' There is just enough light to reveal a
stupendous mass of bold mountain scenery, rising
apparently from the sea, and towering up 3,000 feet
and over, until lost in the haze of the morning.
I 202
Under the shadow of these hills we are puffing
towards an opening, as if cut purposely "through
a solid wall of rock. On the right stands an
immense fortress, built of red brick. Alcatraz
Island, right ahead, is dimly visible, like a grey
spot in the line of water. The ripple, touched
by the sunbeams that are slanting into the bay,
seems converted into revolving cylinders of brilliants. As we steam through this magnificent
portal, the finest harbour in the world opens
out to the southward and westward. On the
curving shore of the bay, I can see the city of
San Francisco, built on the slopes of three hills;
to the left the island of Yerba Buena; farther to
the right a forest of masts, from which flags
representing every nation flutter in the breeze;
ahead a long stretch of water, as far as eye could
follow it—the continuation of the harbour.
We ran alongside an immense pier at 6 a.m.
I am mobbed by touters from every hotel in
San Francisco, and have hard work to keep my
luggage from being equally divided amongst
them. Passengers appear, for the first time since
leaving Vancouver Island, blanched like celery
or seakale. By dint of strong arms and stronger
language, I get my luggage fastened to a grating
that lets down by machinery, at the end of an 'UNION  CLUB'  AT  SAN FRANCISCO.
omnibus marked 'OrientalHotel.' I am hustled
into the 'bus with three pale passengers, and we
are rapidly whirled off to the 'Oriental.' The
mail-packet from Panama has also just arrived;
all the beds are taken at the hotel, so I bide my
chance of some one leaving before night.
o o
Called on the Consul, and through his kindness am located in the Union Club House, a
grand improvement on the ' Oriental.'
March 5th.—Occupied in giving my letters
of introduction, and arranging money-matters.
The club-house in which I am staying is a massive granite building. The granite, beautifully
faced and fitted, was all hewn in China; the house
was put together there, to see everything was
properly finished, then taken to pieces, packed,
and shipped for San Francisco. Chinese builders
came with it, brought their own scaffolding (made
entirely from bamboo), put it together, built up
the granite edifice in which I transcribe this,
as handsome a structure as any San Francisco
can boast of.
March 6th.—Having nothing particular to do,
determine to visit the New Almaden quicksilver
mines. There are two routes to these mines—
one per stage the whole distance (56 miles), the
other per steamer to the head of the Bay of San
9 J
r 204
Francisco, and thence by stage to San Jose\
Past experience had taught me, whenever possible, scrupulously to avoid stage travelling.
Being tossed in a blanket, or rolled down a steep
hill in a cask, produce much the same bruised
and general state of sprain and dislocation as
a day's ride in a stage. Choosing the steamer
lessened the chance of jolting by quite one-half,
at the same time affording a good opportunity
of seeing the famed Bay of San Francisco.
I embark at seven from a wooden pier—early
as it is, alive with the hum, buzz, and bustle of
the awakening city—and steam away over the
unrippled waters of the bay. The temperature is
delicious; a few fleecy clouds are swept rapidly
over the clear blue sky by a light breeze blowing
softly from the land, laden with the perfume of
wild flowers and forest trees. A run of a few
hours brought us to the embarcadero, or landing,
at the head of the bay, from whence a stage
bumped me over the road about four miles, to
the old town of San Jose\
Pueblo San Jose stands at the entrance of a
lovely valley. The town consists of a collection
of adobe houses; a few in the main street are
built of wood, painted white, with brilliant green
jalousies outside the windows.   The older houses CHURCH  OF  SAN JOSE.
are scattered round an open space, the plaza:
trees of greenest foliage, in double rows, shade
© ©      ' 7
one from the burning sun, and everywhere spacious orchards and flower-gardens testify to the
fertility of the soil.
Having a note from a friend in San Francisco
to the host of ' House,1 more than ordinary
civility was accorded me, and by some superhuman means a buggy would be ready in about two
hours to take me to the mines.    Crossing the
Alameda, a grove of willows and oaks, planted
by the padres, leads to the old crumbling walls
of what was once a very spacious mission, now
rapidly falling to decay. The interior of the old
church is decorated with rude carvings, paintings of the Crucifixion, and frescoed figures of
o o
saints and martyrs, clad in garments of dazzling
colours. One old shaven priest, with a particularly dirty cassock, and a face so begrimed
with layers of filth as to be mosquito-proof, was
the only ecclesiastic visible. Thousands of cliff
swallows (Hirundo lunifrons) were busy building their bottle-shaped mud nests under the
dilapidated roof
Discovered little worth looking at in the
town. Found the buggy waiting:. my coachman,
a regular Yankee, puffing vigorously at an im-
%\ 206
mense cigar, was seated in readiness, his legs
resting on the splash-board. Without removing
the cigar from his mouth, he drawled out, ' Say,
Cap'en, guess you'd better hurry up if you mean
making the ranch before sundown. Bet your
pants this child ain't agwine that road in the dark
nohow.' ' What's to happen?' I mildly enquired.
' Happen ! Wal, maybe upset; maybe chawed
up by a grisly; maybe cleaned slick out by the
greasers. You'd better believe a man has to
keep his eye skinned in the daytime; so hurry
up, Cap.' Without further parley I scrambled
in, and away we went.
Our road lay over broad plains and through
occasional belts of timber; deep, gravelly ar-
royos, in and out of which we dashed with a
plunging scramble, marked the course of the
floods. Everything was steaming hot; the baked
ground reflected back the scorching sun-rays,
until the atmosphere quivered as one sees it over
a limekiln; the mustangs in a fog of perspiration ; the Jehu, denuded of coat and vest, continually yelled ' A git along,' with a rein in each
hand, steering rather than driving, was red-hot in
body and temper. But this was nothing to my
state of broil. Exposed to a temperature that
would have made one perspire  sitting in the 1
shade; to be kept in a state of bodily fear of
instant upset; to undergo a continuous exercise
that would have been good training for an athlete,
to avoid being shot out of the buggy like a
shell from a mortar, would have set an Icelander in a glow. The rapidity with which we
whirled along, and the eccentric performances of
the vehicle, destroyed, in a measure, the enjoyment of a scene quite new to me.
We rattled through the splendid valley of Santa
Clara, passing here and there a fertile ranch; on
either side, the wooded slopes looked like lawns
of Nature's own contriving ; far on my left, the
bay glimmered like a line of silver light, the
ground carpeted with flowers, brilliant escholt-
zia and blue nemophila were most conspicuous
amidst a natural harvest of wild oats and grass ;
and on all sides, from amongst the clumps of
buck-eye and oak, the cheery whistle and chirp
of birds rang pleasantly on the ear.
Reaching the ' Halfway House' (as a small
wooden building is named, midway betwixt San
Jose1 and the mine), we stopped to water the mustangs and refresh the inward man — a respite
most acceptable. A ' tall drink' worked wonders
on my hitherto taciturn coachman, who, as we
jogged  along the remaining half the journey,
1 208
related such wonderful stories, that it seemed
to me we had hardly left the ' Halfway House1
ere we rattled under a grove of trees completely
shutting out the fading light, and pulled up with
a sudden jerk, that well-nigh pitched me over the
mustangs. ' Guess we've made it, Cap'en; this
here's the manager's.'
Giving my letters of introduction to Mr.
Young, a hospitable invitation to be his guest
was readily accepted. I cannot help devoting a
line to the praise of a house most enjoyable in its
minutest details, with a host and hostess it refreshes one's heart to recall to memory.
The lower village of Almaden consists of a
long row of very pretty cottages, the residences
of the workmen employed in smelting the ore;
each cottage was completely buried with honeysuckle and creeping roses; the gardens in front
filled with flowers, and at the back with vege-
tables and fruit. A small stream of water, clear
and cold, ripples past the frontage, brought from
a mountain-burn that runs swiftly at the back,
a  barrier dividing the gardens from the  sur-
© O
rounding hills. An avenue of trees leads from
the cottages to the spacious brick buildings used
for smelting.
The discovery of these fabulously rich mines of H
quicksilver is briefly told. Long ere gold was
discovered in California, the padres and early
settlers knew of a cavern in the hillside, about
a mile and a half from the present village.
Deeming it merely a natural fissure or cleft in
the rock, explorations only were made by the
more adventurous as to its extent, which proved
to .be in length one hundred feet, running into
the mountain horizontally. No one ever thought
it was an artificial excavation of great antiquity.
When the vaqueros and old dons of the neighbourhood were questioned by a new-comer about
the cave, a shrug of the shoulders, and the usual
reply, 'Quiensabe? son cosas muy antiguas,' was
the sole information obtained.
A gold-seeker, assaying some of the rock, salivated himself, and thus discovered it was rich in
quicksilver. A grant, with the land adjoining,
was procured, and the original opening widened;
in clearing away the rubble and dirt at the end
of the cave, several skeletons were discovered,
together with rude mining-tools and other curious
relics, clearly proving it an old excavation made
by the natives for the purpose of procuring vermilion, so much used by all Savages to paint
themselves. The position of the skeletons in the
rubbish covering them left no doubt that, having
VOL. I. p 210
followed the vein of cinnabar without exercising
due precaution to prop the loose ground overhead, they had been literally buried alive in a
grave of their own digging. Further research
soon revealed the immense value of the deposit.
Many years rolled away, and very little was done
until it passed from the hands of an English
company into that of an American firm.
The mine is about a mile and a half from the
smelting-works, on the side of a mountain; an
admirable road leads to it by a gentle ascent,
down which waggons drawn by mules bring the
C© J O
ore to be smelted. On reaching the summit
I rested on a level plateau, on which the upper
works are built; I am to descend presently into
the depths of the mine to see how the ore is
deposited, and trace, step by step, the various
processes it has to go through before it is marketable.
The main entrance is a tunnel ten feet high,
and about an equal width throughout, in which
runs a tramway leading to the shaft. At the
end of this tunnel a small steam-engine does the
work of the poor 'tanateros,' or carriers, who,
until very recently, brought the ore and rubbish
from the bottom of the mine on their backs, a
system still adopted in Spain and Peru, each man
having to bring up a load of two hundred pounds,
in a bag made of hide, fastened by two straps
passing round the shoulders, and a broader one
across the forehead, which mainly sustains the
load. It was fatal work to the poor Mexicans
who had to do it, the terrible muscular strain
soon producing disease and death !
On reaching the engine I am undressed and
rigged as a miner, a costume far more loose and
easy than becoming. Three dip-candles dangled
from a button on my jacket by the wicks, and
one enveloped, in a knob of clay for my hand,
completed my toilet. The next process is to be
lowered down into the mine. Squeezing myself
into a huge kind of bucket, and assuming as
near as practicable the shape and position of a
frog, my candle lighted, ' All right! \ says somebody, and I find myself rapidly descending a
damp dismal hole, dripping with water like a
shower. Of course I shudder, and have horrible
ideas of an abyss, ending no one knows where;
the candle hissed, sputtered, and went out; the
bucket swang as the chain lengthened, and
bumped unpleasantly against the rocks; now a
sudden stop, and a lively consciousness of being
dragged bodily out like a bundle of clothes, discloses the fact of my safe arrival at the bottom.
p 2
1 212
The swarthy Mexican miner deputed as guide
leads the way along a narrow gulley, and down an
incline to the mouth of another hole, the descent
to which has to be effected on a slanting pole,
with notches cut in it, very bike a bear-pole,
called by the miner an escalera, requiring a saltatory performance that would not have been so
bad if I had only known where I should have
landed in case of falling. After this we scramble
down a flight of steps cut in the rock, and
reach the lowest excavation, about one thousand feet from the surface.
The cinnabar is found in large pockets, or in
veins, permeating a kind of trap-rock; and as
the miners dig it out, large columns or pillars are
left to support the roof, and prevent the chance
of its falling in. A small charcoal-fire burned
slowly at the base of one of these massive
columns, and as its flickering light fell dimly,
illuminating with a ruddy glow the bronzed faces
and nearly nude figures of the miners, the vermilion hue of the rugged walls and arched roof,
©© 7
sparkling with glittering crystals, forcibly reminded me of a brigand's cave, such as Salvator
Rosa loved to paint.
All the work is done by contract: each gang
taking  a   piece of ground  on  speculation,  is A BLAST  UNDERGROUND.
paid according to the amount of ore produced;
the ore averaging about thirty-six per cent, for
quicksilver, although some pieces that I dug
myself produced seventy-five per cent. Many
mines in Europe have been profitably worked
when the cinnabar has yielded only one per
A shrill whistle rings through the mine; the
miners from all directions rush towards the pillars. Thinking, at least, the entire concern was
tumbling in, I was about to scamper off, when
the guide, seizing my arm, drags me behind a projecting mass of rock, simply saying, 'A blast!'
For a while there was a deathlike silence—not a
sound save the hiss of the fusee, and the heaw
breathing of the men; then the cave lighted up
with a lurid flash, shedding a blinding glare over
every object like tropical lightning. The dark
galleries appeared and disappeared in the twinkling of an eye, whilst the report, like countless
cannon, was echoed and reechoed through the
cavernous chamber. Showers of fragments came
rattling down in every direction, hurled up by
the force of the powder. On the smoke clearing,
the miners set to work to collect the scattered
fragments of cinnabar.    If a blast has been sue-
cessful, often many tons of rock are loosened and
I 214
torn out, to be broken into small pieces and conveyed to the bucket, and hauled by the engine
to the surface. The mining operations are continued night and day, seventy-four pounds of
candles being consumed every twenty-four hours.
I finish the survey of this singular mine
perfectly free from foul air or fire-damp ; ascend
as I came down; and, by vigorous rubbing with
soap-and-water, am slowly restored from bright
vermilion to my normal colour.
The ore, on reaching the surface, is conveyed
by the tram-cart to the sorting-shed, where it is
broken and carefully picked over by skilful hands,
great caution being needed in selection, as much
valuable ore might be thrown away, or a large
quantity of useless rock taken to the smelting-
furnaces. The picked ore is placed in large bags
made of sheepskin, weighed; and then hauled
by the mules to the lower works.
Near the mine is a primitive kind of village,
the abode of the miners, sorters, and ore-carriers,
who are principally Mexicans; dirty senoras in
ragged finery, dirtier children devoid of garments, together with dogs, pigs, poultry, and idle
miners playing monte on the doorsteps, contrast
sadly with the exquisite little village at the
Descending from the mine to the level ground
© ©
by • a short track down the hillside, through
scenery indescribably picturesque, I reach the
smelting furnaces; these, occupying about four
acres of land, are built of brick, admirably neat,
and well contrived. As quicksilver is found
in several forms—namely, native quicksilver, occurring in small drops, in the pores or on the
ledges of other rocks, argentel mercury, a native silver amalgam, and sulphide of mercury
or cinnabar, different processes are requisite for
its reduction. Here it is found solely in form
of cinnabar, and to reduce it a kind of reverbe-
ratory furnace is used, three feet by five, placed
at the end of a series of chambers, each chamber
seven feet long, four wide, and five high. About
ten of these chambers are arranged in a line,
built of brick, plastered inside, and secured by
transverse rods of iron, fitted at the ends with
screws and nuts, to allow for expansion. The
top is of boiler iron, securely luted*
The first chamber is the furnace for fire,
the second for ore, separated from the first by
a grated partition, allowing the flame to pass
through and play over the cinnabar. This ore-
chamber, when filled, contains ten thousand
pounds of cinnabar.    The remaining chambers
N 216
are for condensing the metal, communicating by
square holes at the opposite corners; for instance,
the right upper corner and lower left, and vice
versd, so that the vapour has to perform a spiral
course in its transit through the condensers.
Leaving the chambers, the vapour is conducted
through a large wooden cistern, into which a
shower of water continually falls, and thence
through a long flue and tall chimney carried far
away up the hillside.
The mercury is collected, as condensed, in
gutters running into a long conduit outside the
building, from which it drops into an iron pot
sunk in the earth. As the pot fills, the mercury
is conveyed to a store-tank that holds twenty
tons. So great is its density, that a man sitting
on a flat board floats about in the tank on a lake
of mercury without its flowing over the edges
of his raft. From this tank the metal is ladled
out, and poured into iron flasks containing each
seventy pounds (these flasks are made in England, and sent to New Almaden): in this state
it is shipped for the various markets.
Although every possible care has been taken
to prevent the mercurial fumes from injuring the
smelters, still a great deal of it is necessarily
inhaled, most injurious to health.    Clearing out EXPORT  OF  QUICKSILVER.
the furnace is the most hurtful process, the men
employed working short spells, and resting a day
or two between. A furnace charged with ore, I
am told, takes about eight days to sublime and
It is difficult to obtain a correct statement of
the absolute yield of this mine; proprietors, for
many reasons, deeming it inexpedient to let
the world know the extent of their riches. The
export of quicksilver from San Francisco, a few
years back, may, I think, be averaged at 1,350,000
pounds of mercury per annum, valued at 683,189
dollars; and this, together with the large amount
consumed in California, was the sole produce of
the New Almaden mines.
There are fourteen furnaces, arranged with
passages ten feet wide between them, the whole
covered with a roof sufficiently high to allow
a current of air to circulate freely. Between
the furnaces and on all the open spaces are
innumerable bricks, just as we see them in a
brickyard to harden before baking. On inquiring what these were made for, I discover that
all the fragments and dust-cinnabar are pounded
together, mixed with water, and made into bricks:
in this form the ore can be conveniently built into
the furnace, securing intervening spaces for the
iii j
Ml 218
flame and heat to act on; thus more perfect sublimation is secured, and a great saving of metal
effected. There are blacksmiths' and carpenters'
shops and a sawmill adjoining the furnaces.
Until recently all the ore was brought down
from the mine packed on the backs of mules, a
most costly system of transport as compared to
the one now in use. The vegetation only suffers
immediately round the chimney, and even there
not to any alarming degree. The flue, being of
great length, carried at a moderate slope up the
hill, and terminating in a very tall chimney,
completely condenses all mercurial and arsenical
fumes. Before this flue and stack were constructed, even the mules and cattle grazing in
the pastures died from the poisonous effects of
the mercurial vapour; and its deadly action on
vegetation was like that of the fabled upas-tree.
The workmen now, as a rule, enjoy very good
health, and are admirably cared for; the village
boasts a capital hotel, and stages run daily to
San Jose and San Francisco.
A spring of native soda-water, bubbling up
in the centre of the village, protected and fitted
like a drinking-fountain, is said to work wonders
as a curative agent in all maladies arising from
o ©
the  effects  of mercury.    This  spring is  sup- \
posed to be under the especial care of a ' Saint
Somebody,' a lady whose image, attired in very
dirty finery, figures in niches cut in the rocks at
the mine. No miner ever leaves or enters the
mine without prostrating himself before this
dirty effigy.
March 9th.—Return to San Francisco by
road; dine at San Mateo, as lovely a spot as I
ever gazed on. The grass is kneedeep, and the
clumps of buck-eye (Esculus flava) and handsome
oaks besprinkling the rounded hills and banks
of the clear stream winding its way past the
village to the Bay of San Francisco, like a lake
glistening in the distance, reminded me of a
park in fertile Devonshire. Completely shut in,
and sheltered from the wind that blows nearly
all the summer, withering up the vegetation exposed to its influence, everything round about
this favoured spot grows in wild luxuriance. In
the garden belonging to the roadside house, the
summer flowers are in full bloom, and vegetables of all kinds in rare abundance, such as for
size and quality equal anything Covent Garden
Market can show.
The bay runs inland about forty miles, and the
land on its shores is particularly fertile, and
employed in great measure for dairy-farms and
m 220
For the first time I gather the poison-oak
(Rhus toxicodendron), a pretty plant, that
climbs by rootlets, like the ivy, and trails gracefully over both rocks and trees. Some persons
are most seriously affected by it, especially such
as are of fair complexion, if they only venture
near where it grows. It produces swelling about
the eyes, dizziness, and fever; the poisonous effects are most virulent when the plant is bursting into leaf. I picked, examined, and walked
amidst the trees over which it twined thickly,
but experienced not the slightest symptoms of
inconvenience. Still, I know others that suffer
whenever they come near it. Where the poison-
oak thrives, there too grows a tuber known to
the settlers as Bouncing Bet, to the botanist
as Saponaria officinalis, the common soapwort.
The tuber is filled with a mucilaginous juice
which, having the property of entangling air
when whisked, up, makes a lather like soap. This
lather is said to be an unfailing specific against
the effects of the poison-oak—the poison and its
antidote growing side by side !
March 1 Oth.—At San Francisco this morning a
friend took me to see the ' What Cheer House,'
a very large hotel, supported by gold-miners,
where they make up six hundred beds, every
lodger having a  small room to himself, with
© © 7
marble wash-stand, looking-glass, and dressing-
7 ©   © 7 ©
table. Each story shuts off from the next by
fireproof doors, and the water is forced to the
top of the house, where there are hoses, fire-
buckets, and axes enough to fit out a fire-brigade.
A large steam-engine is the cook's assistant, doing
everything that hands usually do; it kneads the
bread, rolls the dough, drives the roasting gear,
grinds coffee, peals apples and potatoes, beats the
eggs (twelve hundred dozen a week), washes,
irons, dries, and mangles the clothes; heats the
water for the bathing-houses, which are perfect
/ 222
in every detail; does all the pumping, and cleans
the knives.
Adjoining the dining-room is a well-selected
library, general reading-room, and museum, containing a capital collection of stuffed birds, and
other useful objects of Natural History. The rate
each miner pays is five dollars, equal to 11. per
week: this includes eating and drinking. The
house is strictly a temperance one, no fermented
liquor being allowed within it.
Wandering about San Francisco would be much
more enjoyable, if the hills were less steep, and the
wind, which is everlastingly blowing, freighted
with fine sand, that finds its way into your very
watchcase, could be stilled.
March 11th.—Steaming across the bay in a
white steamer called the ' Eclipse,' propelled by
the largest paddlewheels I ever saw. • We are
en route to Sacramento, which we reach late at
March 12th.—Strolled about. Hardly believe
so vast a place can have grown up in ten years.
I think I like it better than San Francisco. The
streets running east and west are marked by
numbers—1st street, 2nd street, and so on; those
having a north and south bearing by letter, as—
A street, B street, &c. Received a telegram
from the Commissioner, who had just reached STOCKTON.
San Francisco   on   his  return from   England,
to join him.
Nothing material occurs in my journal until
March 23rd,—I am at the Webber House in
Stockton, a very pretty city, built on what the
Americans call a sUw, or, in other words, a
muddy arm of the San Joaquin river. The
country round is perfectly flat, but fertile beyond description. To obtain water the inhabitants have only to bore an augur-hole about nine
feet in depth, when it bubbles up like a fountain.
In nearly every garden is a tiny windmill, employed to irrigate the peach-orchards and general crops. Hear of 700 mules that have just
arrived from Salt Lake city.
March 2Uh.—Drive out in a buggy to the
mule ranch. The country very bare of timber,
but thickly covered with grass. Every hillock,
I observe, is burrowed like a rabbit-warren by
the Californian ground-squirrel (Spermophilus
Beechyii). I am told that it is next to impossible
to drive out or exterminate these most destructive pests; entire fields of young wheat are cleared
off by them, as if mowed down; gardens are invaded, and a year's labour and gain destroyed in
a single day. Trapping, shooting, and strychnine have failed to accomplish the work of extinction.    Farmers often flood entire districts, 224
' to drown out the darned cusses!' Their habits
are strictly diurnal; and pretty lively little fellows they are, scampering off to their holes on
the approach of danger, where they sit up
on their hind-legs, peering curiously at the
intruder. You may come very near now.: there
is a safe retreat behind, and he knows it. When
too close, however, for safety's sake, the squirrel
gives a shrill defiant whistle, like the laugh of
a sprite, and dashes into its burrow.
Purchased twenty-one mules, at 150 dollars
per head; the others were team-mules, and too
large for pack animals. My mules are to remain
on the ranch until I have completed my other
March 25th.—Cross in the stage from Stockton
to Sacramento, a distance of about forty miles,
through a country fertile in the extreme. Wild
flowers, in endless variety of colour, decked
the grass-land. The hawthorn, white with blossom, perfumes the air; and the waving green
cornfields contrast pleasantly with the foliage
of the oaks and chestnuts scattered about in
graceful clumps. We change horses at Wood-
bridge,  Fugit Ranch, and Elk Grove, and at
©     7 © 7 7
four o'clock pull up at the St. George's Hotel,
Sacramento. \
March 26th.—I am again on the road, this
time bound to Grass Valley. A clumsy railway
with cars, or carriages, like the yellow caravans
giants, dwarfs, and wise pigs travel in, bumps
me out to Fulsome, about thirty miles off. Here
I am hustled into a stage, without a chance of
seeing anything but mud, in which the horses
are standing knee-deep.
This stage is different from any I have seen;
loops, straps, and other contrivances, clearly
meant to hold on by, evidence an inequality of
motion and tendency to upset that give rise to
disagreeable forebodings. Constructed to hold
nine inside, the centre seat swings like a bale
dividing horses in a stable, and being somewhat
rounded and padded, looks very like it. Five
passengers seat themselves. I have hardly time
to look at them, when a loud cracking of whips,
several voices yelling ' Hi! git up!' ' Hi! git
along!' and a sudden jerk sends me upon the bale
—a general splash and scramble—and we are off!
We do the first ten miles with a bearable
amount of jolting, and stop to change horses. The
five insiders get out, and we take a nip at the
roadside house, or what would be such if there
were any roads. I observe four most perverse,
obstinate, wild-looking horses being cautiously
VOL. i. Q 226
fastened to the stage; they are clearly uneducated—'wild mustangs ' one of the insiders called
them. They are held tightly. 'All aboard, boys ?'
says the driver (they call him. Mose)—in we
scramble—bang slams the door—and with an
awful lurch away we go! Now I can understand the suspicious-looking machinery, designed,
on the principle of life-buoys, for stage-tossed
travellers to cling to.     Holding on to these we
D ©
swing along as hard as the beasts can gallop.
I am told by a fellow-passenger that unless the
' mustangs start at a gallop, they either upset the
stage, or kick themselves clear of the harness.'
On this journey they were agreeable enough to
gallop off, so we escaped the two contingencies.
Several times Mose shouted, ' Get out, boys, and
hang on awhile.' I discover that this means that
we are to cling to the side of the stage, that
our united weight may prevent its capsizing,
when going along the side of a slope like the
slant of a housetop.
Near dark we are requested by ' Mose' to walk
up the last hill. A tall sallow man, with a face
hollow and sunken, closely shaven, except a tuft
at the chin, steps along with me, and we reach
the top of the hill a good time before the stage.
We are standing amidst some scrubby timber. \
The long shadows of the trees are swallowed up
in the gathering gloom, the music of the forest
has died away, and, save the wind sighing through
the leafy foliage, everything is still. My companion draws nearer. ' Stranger,' he began, in a
voice that appeared to come from his boots, and
get out at his nose, 'jist war we are standin',
three weeks agone, a tarnation big grizzly come
slick upon two men, jist waitin' for the stage, as
we are; chawed up one, and would a gone in for
t'other, but he made tall travellin' for the stage.
When they came up Ephraim had skedaddled,
and they never see him or old Buck-eye arter/
This is refreshing! I hope if 'old Ephraim' does
come, he may eat my tough companion. The
stage came, but the bear did not. We reach our
destination at 8 p.m.: how sore I am!
March 27th.—A good sleep has worked wonders. I find Grass Valley a romantic little
mountain town, about 2,200 feet above the sea-
level, on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada,
owing its existence entirely to gold-mining.
Visited Mr. A.'s mill—a magnificent quartz-
crusher. Nine stamp-heads, each 900 lbs. in
weight, are worked by one of Watts' engines.
The fine-dust gold is collected on blankets, or
bullocks' hides with the hair on, over which the
J 228
water washes it, as it comes from the stamp-heads.
Some of the most productive gold deposits in
California were discovered in and about this
quaint little place. I descend a shaft 240 feet
deep. The gold is distributed through the mud
and silt of what was clearly an ancient riverbed.
March 2(lth.—Ride on horseback to Nevada
and Hunt's Hill. Nevada is a clean pretty city,
with gay shops, brightly-painted houses, and
planked streets. Near it are the famed hydraulic
washings.    The  gold  is  disseminated  through
© O O
terraces of shingle conglomerates, often three
hundred feet in thickness. These terraces are
actually washed entirely off the face of the
country, by propelling jets of water against
them, forced under great pressure through a
nozzle. To accomplish this, the water is brought
in canals, tunnels, and wooden aqueducts, often
forty miles away from the drift. This supply
of water the miners rent.
As we near the washing-spot, in every direction
immense hose, made of galvanized iron, and canvas
tubes six feet round, coil in all directions over
the ground, like gigantic serpents, converging
towards a gap, where they disappear. On reaching this gap, I look down into a basin, or dry )
lake, 300 feet below me. The hose hangs down
this cliff of shingle, and following its course by
a zigzag path, I reach a plateau of rock, from
which the shingle has already been washed. A
man stands at the end of each hose, that has
for its head a brass nozzle. With the force of
cannon-shot water issues, in a large jet, from
this tube ; and propelled against the shingle,,
guided by the men, washes it away, as easily as
we could broom a molehill from off the grass.
The stream of water, bearing with it the materials washed from out the cliff, runs through
wooden troughs called 'flumes,' floored with
granite; these flumes extend six miles. Men
are stationed  at regular  distances to fork out
the heavy stones. Throughout its entire length
transverse strips of wood dam back a tiny pond
of mercury; these are called riffles—gold-traps,
in other words—that seize on the fine-dust gold
distributed throughout the shingle.   The ' flumes \
© ©
are cleaned about once a month, and the. gold
extracted from the mercury. Masses of wood
occur, in every stage of change, from that of
pure silica to soft asbestiform material, and pure
I am strongly disposed to think this immense
hollow must have been the rocky shore of an
> 230
inlet or a lagoon; the rocks underlying the shingle
have all the appearance, when denuded by the
washing, of sea-wear. I try with a powerful
lens to detect gold amidst the material they are
washing, but not a trace is discoverable, and yet
it pays an immense profit to the gold-washers.
Hunt's Hill is a timbered mountain, about
3,500 feet in altitude. Washing its base is the
Greenhorn river, on the banks of which some
very rich gold-washings are carried on, as well
as at Bear Creek, on the opposite slope of the
ridge. Clothing the hill, towering high above
the shanties of the miners, the sugar and nut-
pines wave lazily; the immense cones of the
latter, plentifully besprinkling the ground, afford a feast to the Indians and lesser rodent
March 29th.—Return to Marysville. Visited
another hydraulic washing at Timbuctoo, on the
Yuba river, much the same as that seen at Nevada. Marysville is about the third best city in
Canfornia, situated on the bank of the Feather
river, which is rapidly filling up, from the immense quantity of material brought down from
the hydraulic washings. A single peach-orchard
I visited was 200 acres, all fenced, and the
trees in beautiful health; from it, I am told, RIVER  VOYAGE  TO  RED  BLUFFS.
80,000 dollars were returned in a single year by
the sale of the peaches.
I commence my journal again on
April 24th.—I am in the 'Victor' steamboat, a
small crank flat-bottomed affair, pushed against
the current by a huge stern-wheel—an ugly
appendage, but very effective in navigating swift
shallow streams. I am bound for Red Bluffs,
275 miles above Sacramento. Pass the exits of
the Yuba and Feather rivers, and change the
yellow muddy water for the pure sparkling
stream fresh from the mountain.
April 25th. — Starting again—the 'Victor'
having been fastened up all night, tethered to a
tree, as one would tie up his horse—the scenery,
as we wend along the sinuous course of the
stream, rapidly changes its character. The banks
get steep, and sharp hills take the place of the
flat lands behind us. Wild grape-vines hang in
clustering tangles of green luxuriance from the
branches of the ilex, oak, and arbutus, forming
a continuous arcade over the water.
The Bluffs are reached.    A straggling town,
©© O 7
built on a high bank beethng over the Sacramento
river, peeps out, from amidst some tall trees.
Men, women, children, and dogs are crowding
111 232
down, marching like ants from a hill towards a recent discovery of eatables. The banks are red, the
soil is red, and the houses are built of red brick
—Red Bluffs, a proper and appropriate name.
Land, and put up at House, not remarkable for anything but dirt and discomfort.
April 26th.—Purchase 59 mules, with a complete pack and equipment. My mules and men,
that I had sent by land from Stockton, arrive.
Hire two additional hands, and order the provisioning for my intended trip.
April 27th.—Mules and men need rest; breakfast over.
' Now, Cap'en,' says mine host, as I was debating whether it would be wiser to remain quietly
at home, and enjoy a thoroughly idle day, or join
the hunters, ' I calkilate we've got to worry out
this day somehow. S'pose we take a ride over to
the Tuscan Springs. It's a mighty strange place,
you bet your life; they say it's right over the
devil's kitchen, and when he's tarnation hot, he
comes up and pops out his head to get a taste
of fresh air. The very water comes risin' up
a-bilin', and the pools flash into flame like
powder, if you put fire near 'um.'
' Why, Major,' I replied, ' it is the place of all
others I should enjoy seeing.    How far is it?' \
'Waal,  it ain't over ten mile, but a mighty
bad road at that Here, Joe, saddle up, and
bring round two mustangs.'
o ©
The mustangs are small compact horses, seldom  exceeding  fourteen-and-a-half hands  in
height, descended from Spanish stock, originally
brought into Mexico on its conquest by the
Spaniards. They run wild in large herds on the
grassy prairies in California and Texas, and are
just lassoed when needed. I may perhaps mention, en passant, that a lasso is from thirty to forty
feet long, and made of strips of raw hide plaited
together. When a mustang is to be caught, an
experienced hand always keeps the herd to windward of him; sufficiently near he circles the
lasso round his head, and with unerring certainty
flings it over the neck of the horse he has selected.
The end of a lasso being made fast to a ring in
O ©
the saddle, as soon as the horse is captured, the
rider turns his steed sharp round, and gallops
off,  dragging the terrified and choking animal
■       ©©   © ©
after him. The terrible noose becomes tighter
and tighter, pressing on the windpipe, until, unable to offer further resistance, the panic-stricken
beast rolls in agony, half suffocated, on the prairie.
Never after this does the horse forget the lasso—
the sight of it makes him tremble in every.limb.
| r!
I have seen the most wild and vicious horses rendered gentle and docile in a minute, by simply
laying the lasso on the neck behind the ears.
The breaking-in is a very simple affair: while
the animal is down the eyes are bandaged, and a
powerful Spanish bit placed in the mouth. This
accomplished, he is allowed to get up, and the
saddle is firmly ' synched.' The saddles commonly
usedin California differs very little from those used
in Mexico. The stirrups are cut out from a block
of wood, allowing only the point of the toe to
be inserted; they are set far back, and oblige the
rider to stand rather than sit in the saddle. One
girth only is used, styled a 'synch,' made of
horsehair, and extremly wide; no buckles or
stitching is used, but all is fastened with strips
of raw hide. Everything being complete, the
rider fixes himself firmly in the saddle, and leaning forward jerks off the blind; it is now an
open question who is to have the best of it. If
the man succeeds in sitting on the mustang until
he can spur him into a gallop, his wildness is
soon taken out of him, and one or two more
lessons complete the breaking.
Joe by this time had made his appearance with
the mustangs. Mounting, away we went at a
raking gallop!
I know no exercise half as exhilarating and
exciting as the ' lope,' a kind of long canter, the
travelling pace of a mustang; there is no jarring
or jolting. All one has to do is to sit firmly in
the saddle; the horse, obeying the slightest turn
.of the wrist or check of the rein, swings along
© o
for hours at a stretch, without any show of
Having crossed the Sacramento in a ' scow,' a
kind of rough ferry-boat, our road lay over broad
plains and through scattered belts of timber.
The grass was completely burnt up, and the
series of gravelly arroyos, in and out of which
we continually plunged and scrambled, marked
clearly the course of the winter streams.
The air felt hot and sultry, but fragrant with
the perfume of the mountain cudweed. Not
a cloud was visible in the lurid sky, and the
distant mountains, thinly dotted with timber,
seemed softened and subdued as seen through the
blue haze. We entered a valley leading through
a pile of volcanic hills that one could easily have
imagined had been once the habitat of civilised
man. The. wooded glades had all the appearance
of lawns and parks planted with exquisite taste;
the trees, in nothing resembling the wild growth
' © D ©
of the forest, were grouped in every variety of
graceful outline.
1 «
i   ■ 236
Ill \i
On either side the hills were covered with wild
oat as thick as it could grow; its golden-yellow
tints, contrasting with the dark glossy-green of
7 © © J    O
the cypress, the oak, and the manzanata, had an
indescribably charming effect. As we advanced
the valley gradually narrowed, until it became a
mere canon (the Spanish for funnel), shut in by
vast masses of rock that looked like heaps of
slag and cinder—bare, black, and treeless. A
small stream of bitter, dark, intensely salt water
trickled slowly through the gorge.
Following a rough kind of road, that led up
the base of the hills for about two miles, we entered what I imagine was the crater of an extinct
volcano; nearly circular, about a mile in diameter, and shut in on every side by columnar
walls of basalt. There was a weird desolation
about the place that forcibly reminded me of the
Wolf's Glen in Der Freischutz—a fit haunt for
Zamiel! Scarce a trace of forest-fife was to be
seen, not  a  tree or flower; everything looked
7 / J ©
scorched and cinderous, like the debris of a terrible fire, and smelt like a limekiln on a summer-night. A long narrow house, resembling
a cattle-shed, stood in the centre of this circle.
' Waal, Cap'en, I guess we've made the ranch
anyhow,' said the Major, as we drew up at the
^^.^'^.u.'.-jrrr? THE  MANAGER OF  THE  SPRINGS.
door of this most uninviting-looking establish-
O ©
ment. ' A mighty tall smell of brimstone,' he
further added, ' seems coming up from " Old
Hoof's " stove-pipe. Calkilate he's doing a tallish
kind of dinner below.'
I had no time to reply, ere the host, owner,
and general manager of the Tuscan Springs made
his appearance.    ' How's your health, Doctor ?'
inquired the Major. 'I've brought up Cap'en	
to have a peep at your location ; he's mighty
curious about these kind of diggins.'
'Waal, Cap'en,' said the Doctor, in a long
drawling voice, ' I am glad to see you. I raither
guess you don't see such nat'ral ready-made
places, for curin' jist every sickness, in the old
country as we have in California.—Here, boy,
put up the mustangs: and now step in, and I'll
tell old aunty to scramble up some eggs and
bacon, and then we can take a look round the
Aunty was a quaint specimen of the feminine
gender, not at all suggestive of the gentler sex.
Her features were small, but sharply cut. She
was bent naturally, but not from age, and reminded me of a witch. One would not have
felt at all astonished at seeing her mount a
broomstick, and start on an aerial trip over the
> 238
burnt-up rocks. But all honour to her skill as a
cook,—she did her fixings admirably!
During dinner I had ample time to take stock
of Doctor Ephraim Meadows. His face would
have been a fortune as a study to a painter; his
forehead high but narrow, his eyebrows thick,
bushy, and overhanging; his hair would have
joined his eyebrows, had not a narrow line of
yellow skin formed a kind of boundary between
them. Peering out from beneath his shaggy
hair were two little twinkling, restless grey eyes,
more roguish than good-natured. His nose,
crooked and sharp, was like the beak of a buzzard; with thin dry lips that shut in a straight
line, which told in pretty plain language he could
be resolute and rusty if need be. The tip of his
chin, bent up in an easy curve, was covered with
a yellowish beard, that had been guiltless of comb
or shears for many a day. His nether limbs were
clad in leather never-mention-ums, kept up by
a wide belt, from which dangled a six-shooter.
/ ©
A red shirt, with an immense collar that reached
the point of the shoulders, and a dirty jean
jacket completed his costume.
Our meal over, we started out to see the
wonders of the doctor's establishment. The
house  or hospital,  as he designated it, was a THE  DOCTOR S  BATH ESTABLISHMENT.
long frame-building, divided into nuirierous small
rooms, all opening on a kind of platform that
extended the entire length of the building;
and sheltered overhead by a rough kind of
verandah. A camp-bed, wash-basin, and stool
constituted the furniture of each apartment.
Four sickly-looking men were walking feebly
up and down the platform. These, the Doctor
assured me, were giants now as compared to
what they had been ere they stumbled on the
Tuscan Springs and his water-cure.
The springs are about ten in number, but not
all alike. In some of them, the water rises at
a temperature near to boiling, and densely impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen-gas, perfectly poisoning the air with a most insufferable
stench. In others, again, the waters bubble up
tepid, but bitter and saline. From two of them,
that widen into pools, gas (I imagine some compound of hydrogen) rises constantly to the surface ; and when I applied a match to the water, a
sudden flash lighted up the pool for a second or
two, and this could be repeated at intervals of
three or four minutes. This gas, by a simple
contrivance, is collected and conveyed into a
small shanty, dignified with the name of ' Steam
Bath,' the gas being used to heat the water 240
from one of the springs so as to fill a small room
with steam.
It is one of the most singular and interesting
places I have ever visited. There can be no
doubt that the springs rise from the crater of
an extinct volcano, and that there is some active
volcanic action still going on in the depths
below. Incrustations of various salts and sulphur covered the edges of the pools and rocks
over which the water runs. The water they
drink has to be brought from a spring the other
side of the encircling hills.
Although at this place I observed more direct
evidence of some great internal fire or subterranean laboratory, in which Nature is ever transforming the elemental forms of crude matter into
available materials for the supply of organic life;
still throughout Oregon and California I have
constantly come across similar sulphurous and
saline eruptions, particularly soda-water springs,
where the water rises through the earth, thoroughly impregnated with carbonic-acid gas.
At Nappa, not far from San Francisco, native
soda-water is collected and bottled at the springs
for the supply of the San Francisco market.
Olympian nectar was never more grateful to the TAKING A  BATH.
thirsty gods, than is this soda-water to the hot,
parched, and thirsty hunter!
The Doctor had many strange and wild theories
about these springs, and evidently entertained
a lively belief in their close proximity to his
Satanic Majesty's kitchen.
' Cap'en,' said the doctor, 'I calkilate you ain't
a-goin' home without just tryin' a bath?'
I at first declined. I did not feel at all ill,
and as I bathed every day grudged the trouble
of undressing. It was of no use—the Major
joined the Doctor; persuasion failing, mild force
was hinted at if I did not comply. I was led,
or rather hustled, into the bathing-house. In
one corner of this dismal-looking shed was an
immense square tray, and over it was a most
suspicious-looking contrivance, like the rose of a
giant's watering-pot. I shuddered, for I knew I
should be held in that tray, and deluged from
the terrible nozzle.
My miseries commenced by my being seized
on by two brawny attendants (the bathers), and
literally peeled like an onion, rather than undressed. This completed, a small door that I
had not noticed before was opened, and disclosed
a kind of cupboard, about six feet square.    A
VOL. i. R
11 a 242
flap of board was raised by an attendant, and
supported by a bracket; a contrivance one frequently sees in small kitchens to economise room.
On this I was laid; my janitors withdrew, the
door slammed, and I was alone in the dark.
A sudden noise, between a hiss and a whistle,
enlightened me as to the fact, that sundry jets of
steam were turned on. The room rapidly filled,
and the perspiration soon streamed from my skin.
At first I fancied it rather pleasant; a sort of
lazy sleepy feeling came over me, but as this
passed away I felt faint and thirsty, and yelled
to be let out. No reply. I began to think it
anything but a joke, and again shouted: not a
sound but the hissing steam. .
My thirst grew insupportable; it seemed as
if a live  crab was  gnawing  and rending my
© © ©      j
stomach with his claws and nippers. I made
several attempts to get off the table, but wherever I put my leg the burning-hot steam came
like a flame against it, and there was not sufficient room to stand betwixt the table and the
partition of my steam-prison. I called louder
and louder; my reasoning powers were growing
feeble, my presence of mind was rapidly abandoning me, and a* thousand wild fancies passed
through my brain; I had given up all hope, when AN UNPLEASANT ADVENTURE.
I saw a gleam of light. I have a vague remembrance of being dragged out, plunged into cold
water, and savagely rubbed with a kind of
hempen rasp.
As I became quite conscious of what was going
on, I was partly dressed, and lying on the grass,
the Doctor and the Major standing close by,
the bathers rubbing my hands and feet; whilst
Aunty, squatted on a log, was holding a cup
containing some steaming mixture.
© ©
' 0 Doctor!' I said, as well as I could articulate, ' a little more, and you would have had to
bury me; I was nearly gone!'
' Waal, Cap'en, I kind of guess you must have
had a near shave for life, but it warn't meant nohow. You see the Major and me just strolled up
to take a peep at the mustangs, and the darned
brutes stampeded, breaking clean out of the
" corral," and went past the bath-house like mad.
The boys see 'em, and hearin' us a-hoHerin',
made tracks right after 'em, and never thought
© 7 ©
about your bein' a-steamin'. Old Aunty, by
sheer luck, heard you a-screamin' and a-snortin',
and it mighty nigh skeert the old woman to
death, for she thought " Old Hoof" was a-bilin'
himself. Up she came a-tearin' and a-shriekin.'
that   somethin'   unearthly was  in the  steam-
B 2
ijl 244
room. " Thunder and grizzlys," says the Major,
"the boys have forgot the Cap'en, and gone right
after the mustangs!" You'd better believe we
soon had you out, and you ain't none the worse
for it, thank Providence!'
The combined powers of Aunty's mixture and
the Major's whisky-flask rapidly restored me.
The villanous mustangs—the cause of my mishap—were caught and saddled. Danger past
is Hghtly thought of, and we enjoyed a hearty
laugh as the Major quaintly told the story at
the Bluffs of the Cap'en's bath at the Tuscan
April 28$.—My pack-train' is completed, my
provisions arranged for packing on the mules.
I have eighty-one mules and a bell-horse. To
manage mules without a horse carrying a bell
round its neck is perfectly impossible. The bell-
horse is always ridden ahead, and wherever it goes
the mules follow in single file. (But of this and
packing I shall have more to say further on.)
April 29th.—Sunday.
April 30th.—I have determined to find my
way through Oregon by an unknown route;
doing this, I shall reach the Commission at least
two months earlier than by taking the ordinary
mail-route to Portland.
Again and again I am warned of the risk not
only of losing my mules and men, but my own
scalp into the bargain. The country swarms
with hostile Indians, many large streams have to
1 246
be crossed, the trail is bad, if any; and altogether
the prospect is anything but cheering. I have,
however, made up my mind to go.
The annoyances of a start got over—wild
mules reduced to a state of discipline, packs
adjusted, and men as sober as could reasonably
be expected—all went pleasant as a marriage-
bell until the second day, when my first misfortune happened.
May 1st.—I camp on a beautiful bit of ground,
with grass in abundance, and a stream, clear as
crystal and cold as ice, rippling past close to
my fire. I place a guard over my mules,
fearing accidents; and choosing as level a spot
as I can see, roll myself in my blanket, and
with my head in my saddle soon slept.
I awoke at sun-up, lit my pipe, and wandered
off to see what had become of my mules. I
found the trusty guard sound asleep, coiled up
under a tree, but not a mule. A sharp admonition, administered through the medium of my
foot, soon dispelled his dreams, and awoke him to
a lively sense of reality. He rapidly uncoiled,
started up, stared vacantly around, and thus relieved his feelings:—
' I guess they're gone, Cap'en, every tarnation
coon of 'em, right slick back to the Bluffs.' MAJOR  RADD01TS  RANCH.
I could have pistolled the rascal there and
then, but the mules had to be recovered; so I
bottled up my wrath, roused all my sleeping
camp, and we started in pursuit of the missing
May 4th.—Three days have elapsed. I have
got the mules together, but three are still absent.
Again we started.    I made a long march, cross-
O ©7
ing Cottonwood Creek, through Major Raddon's
ranch — one of the finest in Cahfornia for
grazing — struck the Upper Sacramento, and
camped about sundown on a creek called Stillwater.
May 5th.—In the night it came on a deluge of
rain, that regularly soaked through everything;
but it cleared towards morning,  and we dried
ourselves in the sun as we rode along.
The next three days we travelled through a
beautiful parklike country, very lightly timbered, covered with grass, and thickly dotted
with magnificent ranches (farms); we struck
Pitt river on the fourth day, crossed it safely,
swam the mules, and ferried over the packs.
May 9th.—Our journey for the first twelve
miles lay through a narrow rocky gorge—the
trail; simply a ledge of rock, barely wide enough
for a mule to stand upon.    Three hundred feet
Si       f
1,7 248
below rolled the river. The least mistake—a
single false step, and over goes mule or man,
as it may be, and you see the last of him..
Here I passed a most curious place called the
Devil's Pocket; the trail winds along the very
edge, and you peer down into an immense hollow kind of basin, that looks as if it had once been
a lake,' and suddenly dried up. The hills are
lofty, sharply pointed, and capped with snow.
At the head of this gorge I, for the first time,
saw an encampment of Digger Indians, and a
more famished picture of squalid misery can
hardly be imagined. Their wretched comfortless huts are like large molehills; there is a pit
sunk in the ground, and a framework of sticks,
shaped like a large umbrella arched, over it; old
skins and pieces of bark are thrown over this
frame, and the whole is covered with earth. The
entrance is a hole, into which they creep like
Their food consists principally of esculent roots
of various kinds, which they dig during the
summer months, and dry in the sun.    The field-
7 J
cricket (Acheta nigra) they also dry in large
quantities, and eat them just as we do shrimps.
Bread made from acorn-flour is also another important article of their diet.    They seldom fish COLONY  OF  DOGTOWN.
or hunt. Their arms are bows and arrows ; their
clothing, both male and female, simply a bit of
skin worn like an apron; they are small in
stature; thin, squalid, dirty, and degraded in
appearance. In their habits little better than
an ourang-outang, they are certainly the lowest
type of savage I have ever seen.
We camped in the evening on a large plain
called Big Flat.
May 10th.—It was bitterly cold all night, and
froze sharply. We got off soon after sun-up,
and literally crept along the side of a high range
of mountains, densely wooded, and forming one
side of the valley of the Sacramento, which has
dwindled down into a mere mountain-burn.
Here I came suddenly on a little colony of
miners, engaged in gold-washing.    I discovered
O    © © O
the place was named Dogtown—the entire town
consisting of a store, a grogshop, and a smithy.
I paid twenty-five cents (a shilling) for a mere
sip of the vilest poison I ever tasted, libel-
lously called ' Fine Old Monongahela Whisky.'
About six miles farther, still on the same trail, I
came to another gold-claim, where there were no
houses at all, called Portuguese Flat. Passed
through some thin timber ; camped on a lovely
May 11th.—Shotgun Creek; my camp is on
the side of a steep mountain, and, about a
mile farther on, is another stream, Mary's Creek.
Camped on this stream was a small pack-train,
that had been with stores to some mining-station.
I heard wolves barking and howling all night,
and twice I drove them out of my camp with a
fire-log. The next morning, as I passed the
camp of the packers, they were in sad grief. The
rascally wolves had pulled down one of their
mules, and torn it almost to pieces. I rode up
in the wood to see its mangled remains. The
ravenous beasts must have fixed on its haunches,
and ripped it up whilst it lived. I was sadly
grieved for the poor beast that had come to so
untimely an end, and for the man who had lost
him—at least 301. worth.
For two more days I followed up the course of
the Sacramento, and crossed it for the last time.
Standing at the ford, and looking straight up the
valley, the scenery is wild and beautiful in the
extreme; on either side sharp pinnacle-like rocks
shoot up into all sorts of fantastic shapes, dotted
with the sugar-pine, scrub-oak, and manzanata
in front; and blocking up, as it were, the end
of the valley, stood Mount Shasta, at this time
covered to its base with snow. MOUNT  SHASTA.
This vast mountain is a constant landmark to
the trappers, for it can be seen from an incredible distance, and stands completely isolated
in the midst of the Shasta plains. I camped close
to the very snow at its base, in a little dell called
' Strawberry Valley.' The next day reached the
Shasta plains, and camped early in the day.
May 15th.—As I was to bid goodby to civilisation, and abandon all hopes of seeing aught but
savages, after leaving this camp, and being by no
means sure of the road, I made up my mind to
ride into Yreka and obtain information about the
Indians, and the state of the trails, and also (what
was of equal importance) obtain a relay of provisions ; the distance from my camp to the city was
about thirty miles.
Yreka city is a small mining-station, situated
on one side of the great Shasta plains; it stands
quite away from law,  society, and civilisation,
gold being the  magnet that attracts first the
© © ©
miner, and then the various satellites (jackals
would be the more appropriate name) that follow
his steps. I left the mules in charge of my
packmaster, and started at sun-up. The ride was
a most desolate affair, over an interminable sandy
plain, without even a shrub or flower, much more
a tree, to break the monotony.    I reached Yreka
;i   11
■ f 252
about ten, and put up at the ' What Cheer House,'
bespoke my bed, and ordered breakfast. The
keen morning-air and a thirty-mile ride had
made me perfectly ravenous, and I waged alarming havoc on the ham and eggs, fixings, and
© ©O   ' ©   '
corn-dodgers, that, I must say, were admirable.
The tea was not a success, being a remarkably
mild infusion, very hot, and sweetened with
brown sugar; but it washed down the solids, and
the finest congou could not have done more.
Thus recuperated, I started off to call on
Judge , to whom I had a letter of introduction from my agents in San Francisco. It did not
take long to find the Judge's quarters, the lanes,
streets, and alleys being distinctions without
any material differences. The mansion in which
his judgeship ' roomed' was a small shanty, with
a porch or verandah round it, to keep off the sun
when it happened to be hot, and the wet when it
rained. I knocked with my knuckles—no reply ;
tried again—still silence; resorted to the handle
of my hunting-knife, anything but mildly—that
did it.
' I raither calkilate, stranger, you'd better jist
open that door; / ain't agwine to, you bet your
I opened it, and walked in.    There sat Judge INTERVIEW WITH THE  JUDGE OF YREKA.
in a large armchair, cleverly balanced on
the two hind-legs.    No, it was not sitting, or
lying, or standing, or lounging; it was a posture
compounded of all these positions.   His (I mean
Judge 's) legs were  extended on  a level
with his nose, and rested on. the square deal table
before him. He was smoking an immense cigar,
one half of which was stowed away in his cheek,
rolled about, and chewed; whilst the other half
protruded from the corner of his mouth, and
reached nearly to his eye. A little distance from
the Judge was an immense spittoon, like a young
sponging-bath. He was ' whittling' a piece of
stick with a pocket-knife, and looked the embodiment of supreme indifference. The chair
he occupied and the table—whose only use, as
far as I could see, was to rest his legs on—constituted the entire furniture.
The Judge himself was a long spare man, and
gave me the idea of an individual whose great
attribute consisted in possessing length without
breadth or thickness; everything about him was
suggestive of length. Beginning at his head, his
hair was long, and his face was long, and his nose
was long, and a long goatee-beard terminated the
end of his chin; his arms were long, and his legs
were long, and his feet were long; he had along
If 254
drawling utterance, and was inordinately long at
arriving at a moderate pitch of civility. He eyed
me over and drawled out, ' W-a-e-1!' I handed my
letter, and quietly awaited its effect; as he was
long in everything else, he was long in opening
it. Having made a minute inspection of the exterior, he slowly took it from its yellow envelope,
and gradually seemed to understand from its
contents that he was to be civil.
' So you ain't bin long in these parts, Cap'en ?'
said the Judge, without in the smallest degree
shifting his position.
I said I was quite a stranger, and should be
glad if he would give me some information about
the trails and the Indians, along the route I intended taking.
' Bars and steel traps! j roared the Judge.
' You'll have your har ris, sure as beaver medicine ! Why, thar ain't worse redskins in all Oregon
than the Klamaths. Jist three months agone
come Friday, the darn'd skunks came right slick
upon Dick Livingstone and his gang. You've
heerd of Dick, I guess?' (I said I had not.)
' Wael, most people has, leastways. They was
jist a-washing up a tall day's work, up Rogue
river, when the Klamaths swarmed 'em just
as thick as mosquitos in a swamp. Several went
under, bet your life,  for  Dick  and his boys YREKA  CITY.
warn't the ones to cave in. But 'twarn't no use;
the reds jist crowded them clean down, and took
the har off everyone of 'em. The trails, too, is
awful soft. Mose Hart says—and he's now from
Bogus Holler, whar you have to go—that a mule
is jist sure to mire down a'most any place.'
' Well,' I said, ' your news is not by any
means refreshing, Judge; nevertheless, I mean
©     ©
' Wael, Cap'en, maybe you 're right; makin'
back-tracks ain't good, anyway; we are a go-
ahead people, we are, and it won't pay to be
skeerish, anyway. S'pose we go and take a
drink, and I'll jist put you through the city; I
guess I'm well posted about most things in these
So we did the city, which did not take very
much time to do; we did the stores, where
every person, from the master to the errand-boy,
did nothing but sit on the counter to chew,
whittle, and spit. The amount of whittling
done in this city is perfectly astounding; every
post supporting the verandahs outside the stores
and bar-rooms was whittled nearly through;
some of them in two or three places. We did
the bar-rooms, and did sundry drinks with divers
people. I purchased provisions, hired a guide,
took leave of the Judge (who was not half a bad 256
fellow when you understood him), and retiring to
my inn, determined to enjoy the luxury of a bed
and a long night-in, having slept on the ground
since leaving Red Bluffs ; and if the Judge was
right about the redskins, the chances were con-
© >
siderably against my ever stretching my limbs
on another. So, to make the most of it—for a
start at sun-up and a long ride, added to a
tedious day, had pretty well fagged me—I retired
very early, and turned in.
It really was a lovely bed, just like bathing in
feathers. I stretched out my limbs until they
fairly cracked again, and rolled in enjoyment.
My thoughts were soon wandering ; and visions
of home, mixed up with mules falling over precipices, battles with 'Indians, an ugly feeling
round the top of my head, judges, drinks, rowdies, all jumbled together in a ghostly medley—
floated off in misty indistinctness, and I subsided
into the land of dreams.
I awoke, with an indistinct idea that I was at
a ball, with a jiggy kind of tune whirling through
my brain. Pish! 1 must have been dreaming ;
so I turned over, and tugged the blankets more
tightly round my shoulders, vexed that such a
stupid dream should have awoke me. Hark I
what on earth is that ?     ' Ladies and gents, take
your places, salute your partners,'—then crash
went two fiddles, crowding out a break-down.
Again the voice —' Half right and left' — and
off they went. The sounds of countless feet,
scuffling rapidly over a floor, told me, in language not to be mistaken, that a ball was going
briskly" on very near my head.
I sat up, rubbed my eyes, took a long mournful yawn, and began to consider what had best
be done. I discovered that a thin wooden partition only intervened betwixt my head and the
ball-room; everything rattled to the iigging tune
t •/ O u  o©      o
of the music and the dancers; the windows, the
doors, the wash-crockery, the bed, all jigged; and
I began to feel myself involuntarily nodding to
the same measure, and jigging mentally like the
rest. Shades of the departed ! I could not stand
this. Goodby bed, and feathers, and sleep! I
may as well dance in reality as in imagination ;
and abandoning all my anticipated delights,
dressed, and entered the ball-room.
It was a long room, lighted with candles hung
against the wall in tin sconces ; the company—if
variety is charming—was perfect. The costumes,
as a rule, were more suggestive of ease than
elegance; scarlet shirts and buckskin ' pants'
were in the ascendant.     The boots as a rule
VOL. i. s f II
H; w
i* ir
being of the species known as Wellingtons, were
worn outside the trousers, inducing the latter
indispensables to assume a bunchiness about the
knees, not calculated to display the symmetry
of the leg to advantage. Very few had any
jackets on, but all, without exception, carried a
bowie-knife and six-shooter in their waistbelts.
The ladies' costumes were equally varied: most of
them wore bright-coloured muslins, of very large
patterns, and showy waist-ribbons, tied behind in
a large bow, with streamers down to their heels.
The dance was just ' down ' when I came into
the room. I saw a few citizens I had met in the
day, but each one seemed to have his 'fancy
gal,' and any chance of getting an introduction
was a vain hope. The fashion, I discovered
afterwards, is either to bring or meet your partner at the ball-room, and dance with her, and
her only, all the evening.
A waltz was called, and I wanted a partner.
Looking round, I espied a lady sitting near the
end of the room, who evidently had not got one.
She was in the same place when I entered the
room, and it was clear to me, by her unrumpled
appearance, that she had not danced for the
evening. ' Faint heart never won fair lady'
might, I imagined, apply as forcibly to dancing n
as to wooing or fighting; if I am snubbed it won't
© O © '
be all the world, and I suppose I shall live it down
—so here goes! Walking boldly up to her, I
asked coolly, but rather apologetically, if she
would try a waltz.
' Guess, stranger, I ain't a-fix'd up for waltzin.'
'Perhaps, madam,' I said, 'you will excuse
me, although unknown to you, if I ask you to
dance the next cotillon with me? '
Looking into my^face with an expression half
doubt, half delight, she said: ' Stranger, I'll have
the tallest kind of pleasure in puttin' you right
slick through a cotillon, for I've sot here, like
a blue chicken on a pine-log, till I was bike to
a-grow'd to the seat.'
This satisfactorily arranged, I sat down by her
side until the waltz finished, to have a good look
at and trot out my new inamorata. She was a
blonde beauty, with fair hair and light-grey eyes,
that flashed and twinkled roguishly; and robed in
some white material, with blue ribbons in her
hair and round her waist—a mountain-sylph, that
any wanderer in search of a partner would have
deemed himself lucky to have stumbled on.
Our conversation was rather discursive, until
I discovered that home-politics, or rather the
duties and requirements of a gal fhum, was a
s 2 260
never-failing spring from which to draw fresh
draughts of household knowledge. At last the
cotillon was called by the master of the ceremonies, and again I heard—' Take vour places,
salute your partners;' the fiddles started the
same kind of iigging tune, and away we went.
V     ©© © J
A cotillon is a compound, complicated kind of
dance, evidently constructed from the elements
and fragments of many other dances: a good deal
of quadrille, a strong taste of lancers, a flavour
of polka and waltz—the whole highly seasoned
with Indian war-dance. You never stand still,
neither can vou lounge and talk soft nothings
to your partner—it is real, bond fide, downright,
honest dancing. I soon discovered why the men
left off their jackets: a trained runner could not
have stood it in clothing. My jacket and waistcoat soon hung on a peg, and, red-shirted like the
rest, I footed it out gallantly.
My partner was a gem, with the endurance of
a ballet-girl in pantomime time. How many cotillons we got through I never clearly remembered; but we danced on, till the grey morning
light, stealing in through the windows, warned
the revellers that Old Sol was creeping from
behind the eastern hills, and that the day, with
all its cares and toils, was near at hand once more. THE  MORNING AFTER  THE  DANCE.
My fair partner positively refused to allow me
to see her home. Being a casual acquaintance
and not a lover, I suppose, of course, that it was
highly proper on her part. I thanked her sincerely, for I really felt grateful to her for enabling me to dance away a night that I had destined for a long luxurious repose. With a hearty
' good-night' we parted, never to meet again.
It was a glorious morning—the air cool and
fresh, the sky unflecked by a single cloud. The
sun was just tipping the hilltops with rosy light,
and peeping shTy into the valleys, as I wandered
out to think over my strange adventure. My
way led by chance up the back of the street, and
out by a little stream to the gold-washings.
Early as it was, all was bustle and activity.
Many of my friends of the ball were now wresting the yellow ore from its hiding-places, the
anticipation of gold dispelling all sense of fatigue.
The want of water is a great drawback to these
diggings.    So valuable is it, that it has been
O©      O 7
brought by a small canal a distance of thirty
miles, and is rented by the miners at so much a
cubic foot.
I fingered here some time, for there is much
to see, then turned my steps towards my inn
through the city.
t I • ' II
| Say—Cap'en—here—hold on !'
I turned, and saw a man in a one-horse dray,
whipping up his horse, and violently gesticulating for me to stop. He soon came up, and
jumping out of the dray, seized my hand, and
shook it with a grip that made my very eyes
| Guess you ain't acquainted with this child ?'
I said no; I had not the pleasure of knowing
' I spotted you, Cap'en, just as soon as ever I
seed you making tracks down the street. My
gal Car'line told me how she put you through all
the dance last night.'
It suddenly flashed upon me that the drayman was my partner's papa. Here's a lively
affair! If he does not ask me my intentions, and
riddle me with a six-shooter if I refuse to marry
his ' gal' at once, I shall deem myself the most
fortunate of men. I civilly said, in reply, that I
found his daughter a most admirable partner.
'I rather guess you did, Cap'en; she's all
watch-spring and whalebone, she is ; can't skeer
up a smarter gal than " Car " in these parts, if
you was to do your darndest. She! why, she's
worth her weight in nuggets to the man as gets
O CO ©
her.' )
I felt cold all over—I thought it was coming.
' You must excuse me,' I said; ' my breakfast is
waiting, and I daresay we shall meet again.' (I
knew this was an awful twister.)
' I'm sure we shall, Cap'en. Let's licker:' so we
adjourned to the nearest bar-room and took an
'eye-opener,' and so I escaped from the drayman.
I drew a deep breath, and felt as if I had got clear
from the claws of a grisly bear—made for the inn
as fast as I could, gobbled up a hasty breakfast,
packed up my goods, and with my guide started
for my camp.
'Often I turned and gazed anxiously over the
plain, expecting I should see the drayman, his
daughter Caroline, and a priest in hot pursuit;
and there and then, on the Shasta plains, 1 should
be, nolens volens, linked to my fair-haired partner, for a life's cotillon!
Such was my first, and such was my last, my
only night in Yreka! ' All's well that ends well,'
and I trust the fair Caroline has as pleasant a
.remembrance of the Cap'en as he has of her!
I found my camp all right, saddled up, and
am off on my perilous journey through the wilds
of Oregon. The Shasta plains are vast sandy
flats, half prairie, half desert, sparsely covered
with withered grass, and not a bush or tree or
4 ymj
shrub, as far as the eye could wander, had struggled into life. 'Tis true a stunted artemisia, or
wild-sage bush, had fought its way inch by inch
in its struggle for existence, and looked so old,
dry, and parched, that your idea was, if you
laid a finger on it, it would powder up like
dried herbs; but whatever had been in shape
of grass, or herb, or shrub, was gone, cleared
bodily and entirely away by the field-crickets.
Never shall I forget this insect array. On
getting well upon the plains, I found every
inch of ground covered with field-crickets; they
were as thick on the ground as ants on a hill; the
mules could not tread without stepping on them;
not an atom or vestige of vegetation remained,
the ground as clear as a planed floor. It was
about twenty good long miles to the next water,
and straight across the sand-plains, and, for that
entire distance, the crickets were as thick as ever.
It is impossible to estimate the quantity; but
when you suppose a space of ground twenty-seven
miles long, and how wide I know not, but at least
twice that, covered with crickets as thick as they
could be packed, you can roughly imagine what
they would have looked like if swept into a heap.
It was long after sundown when we reached
the water, tired, thirsty, and utterly worn-out; REMEDY AGAINST FIELD-CRICKETS.
but the stream being wide and swift, the crickets
had not crossed it, so our tired animals had a
good supper, and we a comfortable camp. I rode
off to some farm-enclosures I saw, in search of
milk and eggs; and, to my great surprise, I noticed every field had a little tin-fence inside the
snake or rail fence, about six or eight inches
wide, nailed along on a piece of lumber, placed
edgeways in the ground, so that a good wide
ledge of tin projected towards the prairie. ;
' What,' I said to the first farmer I met, 'induces
you to put this tin affair round your field ?'
' Why, stranger, I guess you ain't a-travelled
this way much, or you'd be pretty tall sure that
them darned blackshirts out on the prairie would
eat a hoss and chase the rider. But for that bit of
a tin-fixin' thar, they'd mighty soon make tracks
for my field, and just leave her clean as an
axe-blade. These critters come about once in
four years, and a mighty tall time they have
when they do come!'
It was a most effectual and capital contrivance
to keep them out, for if they came underneath
the tin they jumped up against it, and it was
too wide to leap over. These field-crickets
(Acheta nigra) are black, and very much larger
than   the   ordinary   house-cricket.   • They eat
4 266
seeds, grass, fruit, and, when they can get nothing else, they devour each other. I frequently
got off my horse to see what a large mob
of crickets were about. They had dragged
down, perhaps, two or three others, and were
one and all deliberately tearing them to
pieces. If they meet head to head, they rush
at each other and butt like rams, but, backing
against each other, they lash out their hind-legs
and kick like horses. What becomes of them
when they die I cannot imagine; the entire atmosphere for miles must become pestilential. I
suppose, from their coming in such vast numbers
every fourth year, that the larvae must take that
time ere they assume the perfect shape.
May 16th.—The Californian quail, which Ifound
most plentiful along the course of the Sacramento,
ceases at the edge of this great sandy desert; it
appears to be the limit to its northern range.
I note a singular instance, how curiously and
readily birds alter their usual habits under difficulties, in the nesting of Bullock's Oriole. A
solitary oak stood by the little patch of water, a
spring that oozed, rather than bubbled, through
the sandy soil where my camp stood; it was the
only water within many miles, and the only tree
too; every available branch and spray had one _»,
of the woven nests of this brilliant bird hanging
©       ©
from it. I have never seen them colonise elsewhere. The nests are usually some distance
from each  other,  and concealed amidst thick
/ 268
HI    ||
fti' IE
May 17th.—Leave this sandy waste, cross over
a low divide, and descend into a narrow gulley,
named Bogus Hollow. Creep along between high
craggy peaks for ten miles to reach the Klamath
river, a wide, rapid stream that I have to cross,
but how, just now is apuzzler. The banks are high;
not a tree grows along its sides, or near by, wherewith to make either canoe or raft. I follow on its
course for eight miles; the river makes a sudden
bend, and in the angle on the opposite side I can
see the charred remains of a log-shanty, amidst a
clump of trees, one of which has been felled so as
to fall across the river, and forms a rude foot- SWIMMING MULES ACROSS  STREAM.
bridge. We unpack the mules, carry all the
packing-gear and provisions on our own backs
to the other side, an operation requiring steady
heads and sure feet, the footway a single tree,
and not even a handrail to steady the crosser.
All safely over, and no mishap.
The next operation is to swim the mules, a
very simple process if properly managed; a risky
and dangerous one if due precautions are neglected.    The strength of the current must be esti-
mated, so that the mules maybe driven up-stream
far enough, to ensure their not being washed
farther down the opposite side, than where you
are desirous they should land, and the place
selected for them to land should always have a
shelving shore. Supposing you have a canoe, the
bell-horse, deprived of his bell, is towed by the
canoe across the stream; a packer, standing in the
canoe, keeps ringing the bell violently; the mules,
that have followed their leader to the edge of
the stream, are prevented galloping along the
river-bank by the packers; at last, in sheer despair,
they dash into the water and swim towards the
clanging bell; nothing can be seen but long ears
and noses, or heard gave the tinkling bell, the
splashing water, and a medley of snorts, ranging
from a shrill whistle to a sound compounded of
i WM ' 1
III if
creak and groan, gasped from the older, asthma-
tical, short-winded mules. If we have no canoe,
the bell-horse is ridden into the water; when the
rider feels the horse begins to swim, he grasps the
mane with his left hand, floats from off the horse's
back, swims with his legs as in ordmary swimming,
whilst with the right he splashes the water against
the horse's face, thus keeping the animal's head
always up-stream. On reaching the opposite
side, when the horse's feet touch the ground, the
7 © 7
man again drops astride, and rides it out, ringing the all-potent bell with all his might.
I learn from my guide that a settler 'squatted'
where we cross about a year before, built the
shanty, made the footbridge, and put in some
grain-crops; but the Indians discovered, killed,
and scalped him, burnt his shanty, and carried
his wife away prisoner—not a cheering story,
considering   I   am   going  through   their  very
,   © © O O J
May l%th.—A sharp frosty morning; very cold,
sleeping in the open air. Get away soon after
sun-up. Leave the flat grassy valley, and ascend
the timbered slopes of the Sis-ky-oue mountains.
Follow a bad Indian trail, through barren gorges,
and along rocky ledges, for twenty miles; observe
lots of deer-tracks, but no deer.    Descend the THE  EMIGRANT S  FORD.
northern slope, arrive at the Emigrant's Ford, and
come plump upon a large encampment of Sis-ky-
oue Indians. Fifteen miles to the next water; the
sun rapidly sinking ; men and mules tired. At
all risks, I camp near the redskins.
The Emigrant Ford is a wide lake-like expanse
of the Klamath river, that spreads out over a
level plateau on emerging from a basaltic gorge,
through which the river finds its way for some
distance.    The walls of rock shutting it in being
o ©
deep and almost vertical, reaching the water in
the canon is an impossibility. As the river
widens out it shallows sufficiently for ox-teams
and waggons to get through it; and, being almost
the only fordable place, was always chosen by
emigrant trains coming to Oregon and California.
© O ©
The remains of half-burnt waggons and human
bones still bleaching in the sun, makes one
shudder to think of the terrible fate of the weary
wanderer, cut off at this fatal spot by the
Indians, j Their plan was to remain concealed
until the trains were all safely through, then to
swoop down upon them, while scattered and
disordered by crossing, cut loose the oxen, kill
the men, carry off the women and children, if
girls, burn the waggons, and secure all that suited
them in the shape of plunder.
>( 1
mm 272
The Indians near my camp were fishing in
a small mountain-stream, if baling out fish by
the bucketful could be called fishing. Round-
fish (Coregomis quadrilateralis) and brook-trout
(Fario stellatus) were in such masses (I cannot
find a better word) that we dipped out, with
baskets and our hands, in ten minutes, enough
fish to fill two large iron pails that we carried
with us. How such hosts of fish obtain food, or
where they find room to deposit their ova, are
mysteries. The Indians were splitting and drying them in the sun strung on long peeled rods.
May 19th.—Had no trouble with these Indians.
Hire two of them to aid me in again crossing the
© O
Klamath river, where it runs from the upper into
the lower Klamath lake. For the first four miles
we ascend a steep mountain, rather thickly timbered. Killed a grey deer, and saw a splendid
herd of wapiti; but the bell frightened them, so I
did not get a shot.    Cross the ridge, and descend
© ©     7
on an open grassy flat, surrounding the lower
Klamath lake, which I should say, at a rough
guess, is thirty miles in circumference. It is in
reality more like a huge swamp than a lake;
simply patches of open water, peeping out from
a rank growth of rushes at least twelve feet in
I should think this place must be the ' head BEAVER  SETTLEMENTS.
centre' of the entire beaver population of Oregon ;
in some of the patches of open water, there certainly was not room to jam in even a tiny beaver
cottage of the humblest pretensions, although
the open space occupied by the town was many
acres in extent. The trees, although a good half-
mile from the water, were felled in all directions,
as if busy emigrants had been making a clearing.
«/ © © ©
The branches, lopped from the fallen trees, had
been dragged by these busy animals along the
well-beaten roads, that led in all directions, from
the timber to the rushes, through which roads
were also cut, to gain an easy access to the
The branches, many of them large and heavy,
are dragged by the beavers—backing along the
roads, two or three often assisting in tugging a
' o ©o     ©
single branch—until the water is reached ; then
they seize it with their chisel-like teeth, and
using their powerful tails, both as rudders and
screw-propellers, float it out, to be employed in
building their dome-shaped residences. But of
this more at length, when referring to the habits
of the beaver.
Wildfowl too are here, in great variety and
abundance.    For the first time I see the breeding-
ground of the Rough-billed Pelican (Pelicanus
vol. i. t
KJ 1    I if
erythrorynchus). Their- nests were on the
ground, amidst the rushes, but unluckily I did
not succeed in  finding  an e^s-.    The nest is
© ©©
simply a confused heap of rushes, with a lot of
down and feathers in the centre. On the water
these huge birds swim as easily, buoyantly, and
gracefully as swans; and in fishing, do not
swoop down from a height, as does the brown
pelican, but thrust their heads under water, and
regularly spoon up small fish with their immense
pouched beaks.
Where could one find a more enjoyable sight,
whether viewed with the eye of a naturalist or
lover of the picturesque? Before me is the reedy
swamp, with its open patches of water, glittering
like mirrors in the bright sunlight, rippled in all
directions by busy beavers: some making a hasty
retreat to their castles, others swimming craftily
along, crawl on to the domes and peep at the
intruder. Dozing on the sandbanks round the
margin of the pools, or paddling with ' oary feet'
on the smooth water, are numbers of snowy pelicans : the bright orange encircling the eyes, and
colouring the pouch, legs, and feet, looks like
flame, contrasted with the white feathers, so intensified is the color by the brilliancy of the sun-rays.
Pintails, shovellers, stockducks, the exquisitely
coloured cinnamon teal, the noisy bald-pate, and a
host of others, are either floating on the water or
circling round in pairs, quacking angry remonstrances at such an unjustifiable prying into their
nuptial haunts. Overhead, vieing with the swallows in rapidity and grace of flight, countless
Terns (Sterna Fosteri) whirl in mazy circles: their
black heads, grey and white liveries, and orange-
yellow beaks, show to great advantage against the
sombre green of the swallows, amid which they
wing their way. Behind me, and far to the
right, the Sis-ky-oue Mountains, in many a rugged
peak, bound the sky-line, their slopes descending
in an unbroken surface of pine-trees to the grassy
flats at their base. To my left, the river that feeds
this rushy lake winds through the green expanse,
like a line of twisted silver, far as the eye can scan
its course; along its bank my string of mules,
in dingy file, pace slowly on: the tinkle of the
;bell-horse, but faintly audible, bids me hasten
after them, and leave a scene the like of which
I shall never perhaps gaze on again. I did not
see any nests of the Tern, although I have but
little doubt they breed about these lakes.
Follow the stream and pass a second kind of
rushy lake, not nearly so large as the one behind,
and reach the southern end of the great Klamath
1 276
lake, out of which pours a rapid stream, two
hundred yards in width, and very deep; camp on
its edge, and set to work to discover some means
O     7
of crossing.
The smoke of my camp-fire has barely reached
above the trees, when Indians are seen coming
from all directions, some on horseback, others
on foot; and canoes in fleets dot the lake, that
stretches away until lost in the distance, like a
fresh-water ocean. I feel very uneasy. The two
Sis-ky-oues have gone, vanished mysteriously.
Hastily collect dry wood and fight a circle of fires,
within which I enclose my mules. I am mobbed
by ugly half-naked demons, who are evidently
doubtful whether to be friends or foes. By aid
of my guide, I manage to bargain for two canoes.
May 20th.—Never laid down all night. Kept
the packers guarding my mules, stationing a
man between each of the fires. Indians in full
force at sun-up. In two hours cross all my stores
in the canoes; swim the mules, and without any
accident we are safely over the river.
This tribe, the Klamath Indians—the chief
of whom, Le-lake, is a man of considerable
influence—number about 2,000, and own large
herds of horses and cattle. They are nearly
always  at  war,  and  are  the  terror of  emi- THE  KLAMATH INDIANS.
grants. The men are well-grown and muscular;
they wear little more than the breech-cloth, and
most of them still use the bow and arrow. The
squaws are short in comparison with the men,
and for Indians have tolerably regular features.
The men use no saddles, and a strange sight it is
© O
to "see a number of these demons nearly naked,
painted from their heads to their waists, all
colours and patterns, skying and whirling round
upon their half-tamed beasts, yelling and shouting,
with no apparent object that I could discover
but that of exhibiting themselves and trying to
© J        ©
frighten me.
The morning is dark and cloudy, with a sharp
keen wind. Keep close to the shore of the lake,
which for the first fifteen miles is shut in oy
high mountains.   The trail winds along the side of
© ©
this mountain, in some places over bare rock, at
others loose rolling stones render it very dangerous and difficult to get over. Emerging on an
open sandy plain, about seven miles in width, we
cross it, still close to the lake. Then hill again, but
not so steep. Reaching an open prairie covered
with grass, camp on a small stream, with decent
wood on its banks. During the whole day I was
beset and worried by Indians riding in among my
mules, galloping forward, then back again, from «nma
one end of the train to the other, in a most excited
Immediately on camping I am again thronged,
so ride on to see the chief at his lodge, about
four miles from camp; having first enclosed
my mules in a ring of fires, and desired my men,
in case I do not return in two hours, to abandon
the mules and escape as best they can. I find
the chief's lodge, in the centre of a very extensive
©     7 J
Indian village, situated on the bank of a swift
©     7
stream. All the lodges are dome-shaped; like
beaver-houses, an arched roof covers a deep pit
sunk in the ground, the entrance to which is a
round hole; through it I descend into the sable
dignitary's presence, his lodge differing from
the others only in being rather larger, and
having more dogs and children round it.
© ©
Face to face I stand alone with the dreaded
chief—more like bearding a hog in its stye than
the Forest Monarch, or the Scottish Douglas, in
his stronghold. On a few filthy skins squats
a flabby, red-eyed, dirt-begrimed savage, his
regal robe a ragged blanket tied round his
waist. Sot and sensualist are legibly written
on his face, and greed, cruelty, and cunning
visible in every twist of the mouth and twinkle
of the  piglike  eyes.    My heart  misgives  me A  'WA-WA'  WITH  THE  KLAMATH  CHIEF.    -279
when I think my men, the government property,
and my own life, are entirely in the hands of
this degraded beast.
Addressing him in Chinook, which he fortunately understood, I explained what my mission
was, asked him what he meant by sending armed
braves in full war-paint, without any squaws,
amongst my mules and men ; that I was a ' King
George's ' chief, and what was more, that another
and a much greater chief was awaiting my arrival
on the banks of the Columbia, and if I failed to
come when so many suns had set over the hills,
he would seek me, and if harm had befallen
me, would surely burn up all the lodges, drive
off the horses, kill the braves, and perhaps hang
the chief.
Handing me the all-potent pipe, he replied—' I
am your brother; my heart is good ; my people
are assembling for a war-trail; I mean you no
harm. Give me two bags of flour, to pay me
for the grass your mules eat.' This I consent
to, bolt through the hole like a fox, and gallop
with all speed back to my camp. Not one
word of all this do I believe; but take additional precautions to guard my mules, and
quietly await the tide of events. About dusk the
chief arrives in full war-paint, which consists of
M 280
alternate stripes of vermilion and white, arranged
in all sorts of directions, and extending from his
waist to his hair. We smoked together; the
pipe passing round the circle of ' braves ' (that
might have been more justly styled * ragged
ruffians,' if they had worn clothes), the chief's
The chief of course wanted everything he saw,
as a present; but this, at all hazards, I sternly
refused. Finding nothing more was to be obtained
by fair means, on receiving the promised payment,
he left for the village.
The lake near which I am camped is a magnificent sheet of water, forty miles in length, with
an average breadth of fifteen, shut in by steep
hills not very heavily timbered, between which
are fine open grassy valleys. Wildfowl in swarms
clot its surface, and it abounds with fish—so the
Indians tell me.
May 21st.—Another sleepless night, morning
dark; a cold icy wind nearly freezes one's blood;
start as soon as we can see. The chief tells me I
can ford the stream near his lodge, but, doubtful
©     7
of its truth, canter on ahead of the mules, and try
it. Just as I thought, deep water; a ruse to get
my mules swimming, and when scattered, to
J ©7
pounce upon and steal them. TIMELY  DISCOVERY  OF  A FORD.
Ride back towards my train, puzzled what
course to pursue. An Indian gallops from amidst
the trees, chasing two horses with a lasso,
catches one, and proceeds rapidly down-stream.
I follow quietly, about a half-mile; then he rides
into the river, and, without wetting his horse's
sides, gets on the other side.
This is a grand discovery. Gallop to my train.
Ride in triumph through the ford, followed by the
bell-horse and mules, and bow impudently to the
flabby old deceiver, fetaring at me wonderingly
as I pass up the opposite side of the stream.
Without stopping to rest, I push on over a
swampy country, with little clumps of alder and
cotton-wood-trees, like islands, here and there, for
twenty-four miles; keep as close as possible to
the edge of the river,  until we reach a large
©7 ©
morass, from which it heads. Here I camp.
Although I have not seen the trace of an Indian
since leaving the village, still I feel sure they will
follow up my trail.
Light fires as usual, and keep strict watch over
the wearied and hungry mules. The men are
tired and sleepy; but, jaded as I am in mind and
body, contrive to keep them up to their sentry-
duty.   They get an alternate sleep—I get none.
May 22nd—Passed a miserably cold nignt. MULE-HUNTING EXPEDITION.
Blowing nearly a gale of wind. Found all right
in the morning. At daybreak get the mules together, and begin saddling. Two mules managed
to slip off about fifty yards from us, when a
sudden yell told me they were gone. The Indians
had followed, and been concealed close to me
in the bush all night, afraid to make an attack,
but waiting a chance to stampede the band;
this, from my having lighted fires, and kept
watch, they were prevented from doing; however,
they made good the two that strayed. I started
after them, but deemed it prudent not to go too
far. They also managed to steal a coat from my
packmaster, with #100 in the pocket.
From the high water the trail through the
© O
swamp is impassable, so I have to go round it,
keeping along on the small ridges, where birch
and alder grow; continuing this for about eighteen
miles, and crossing several deep creeks and
swamps, through which the poor mules are literally dragged, get on to higher and comparatively
dry land, two miles of which brings me to the
entrance of what my guide calls the desert. The
distance across it, he says, is forty miles, with but
one chance of water. Into this barren waste I did
not think the Indians would follow, so make up my
mind to push on, although my men and mules are %
fearfully fagged.    I thought the Indians intended
J O© ©
to pursue us to the edge of this wilderness, and
when off our guard, worn-out for want of sleep,
killing us, and driving off the band of mules.
©     i *^ ©
I am in the very paradise of the prong-buck
(Antilocapra Americana). In bands of twenty or
thirty they gallop close up to the mules, halt, have
a good look, and suddenly scent danger; the leading bucks give a loud whistling snort, then away
they all scamper, and rapidly disappear. We
shot as many as we needed, but at this time the
does we killed were heavy in fawn.
The size of the prong-buck, when fully grown,
is   somewhat larger than the domestic  sheep;
but its legs, being proportionably much longer,
give it a greater altitude. The neck is also
© ©
of greater  length, and the head carried more
© ©7
erect.     The hind-legs are longer than the fore
© ©
ones; a "wise provision, not only tending to
give additional fleetness, but materially assisting
it in climbirig steep precipices and rocky crags,
up and down which it bounds with astonishing
speed and security.
The back is a pale dun colour; a transverse
stripe between the eyes ; the lip, and each side the
muzzle, and a spot beneath the ear, dark reddish-
brown; the entire underparts, the edges of the 284
lips, a large and most conspicuous patch on either
side the tail, pure white. The white meeting
the brown of the back about midway on the
sides, forms a well-defined waving fine. Horns,
hoofs, and nose black. The horns (so marked
a feature in the prong-buck) are placed very far
back, and much compressed in a lateral direction
to about a third of their height, where they give
out a thin triangular bracket-shaped prong, projecting upwards and forwards. Above this snag,
the horns have a shiny surface, are rounded, and
taper gradually to a sharp tip, bent into a hook.
The horns vary greatly in the males. I have
sometimes shot them with the prong hardly
developed, sometimes springing from the horn
near the tip, and in others growing close to
the head, where it is always uneven and warty.
The female is devoid of horns, or only has them
in a rudimentary condition.
The eyes of the prong-buck are black, large,
and expressive, but not a trace exists of a larmier or crumen, a glandular opening beneath
the eyes, so conspicuous in the generality of deer.
The hoofs are narrow and acute, but no trace
exists of the supplementary hoofs usually found in
all ruminants, situated just above the pasterns, at
the back of the legs.    The ears are very long, and THE  PRONG-BUCK.
well adapted to catch the faintest sound. The
hair is coarse, crimped or wavy; growing in a
tuft on the forehead, and during summer in a
mane On the neck and back of the male.
About the posterior third of the back is an
opening bike the tear-gland in the face of a deer,
from which a musky-smelling secretion continually oozes. The animal has also the power of
erecting the hair of the white patches on its rump,
as a peacock spreads its tail, or a wolf bristles its
back. This power of elevating, or apparently
puffing-out, these snowy markings, adds immensely
to the general beauty of the prong-buck. When
wooing, or striving to make the most favourable
©' O
impression on his harem of does, or when in
defence of his wives he rushes at some intrusive
rival, the snowy round patches are 'ruffed' to
treble their natural size.
The geographical distribution of the prong-
buck is rather extensive. North it is found as
far as the northern branches of the Saskatchewan,
53° N. lat. It ranges over all the plains from the
Missouri to the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains ; southerly into Mexico, as far as the mouth
of the Rio Grande; through Oregon and California, and into Washington Territory, along the
banks of the Columbia, to the Spokan river. 286
Their favourite haunts appear to be the grassy
prairies, that extend hundreds of miles without
a break through  Texas   and   Oregon,  dotted
Q © 7
everywhere with small patches of timber. As
the eye wanders over the limitless tract of
prairie, these small isolated belts and clumps
of trees exactly resemble beautifully-wooded
islands, studding a sea of waving grass.    Here
O O©
the prong-buck wanders in herds of from sixty
to  seventy; naturally shy,  approaching them
is not by any means an easy matter;  on the
least alarm the males give the shrill whistling
snort, toss their graceful heads, sniff the air,
stamp with their forefeet, then bound away like
the wind; the herd circle round at first, then
wheel up again in tolerable fine, have another
look, and, if apprehensive of danger, dash off,
and seldom stop until safe from all risk of harm.
There are two methods of hunting them practised by the Indians, on horseback and on foot. If
the former, three or four mounted savages, armed
with bows, arrows, and lassos,  approach from
different points, so as to get a herd of antelopes
between them on the open prairie.    They then
ride slowly round and round the herd,  each
time diminishing the circle: the terror-stricken
beasts huddle closer and  closer together, and M
appear perfectly bewildered. When, by this
manoeuvre, the Indians have approached sufficiently near, each throws his unerring lasso, then
shoots arrows at the flying herd.    As many as
six are often killed and caught at one circling.
© ©
On foot the crafty savage, getting the wind of
the herd, crawls along the grass, and every now
and then lies on his back, and elevates his two
legs into the air. Attached to the heel of each
mocassin is a strip of ermine-skin, which floats
like a pennant. The antelopes soon notice it,
stand, and look; down go the heels, and on the
Indian crawls; and if the herd does not come
towards him, he gets a little nearer. In a short
time their curiosity tempts them to approach
slowly and cautiously towards the two feet,
which are performing every variety of strange
evolution. Near enough, they too soon discover
their error ; the twang of the string and whistling
© O ©
arrow, that goes up to the feather-end in the
chest of the foremost male, warns the others to
fly, and leave their leader and king a prey to the
wily redskin.
We are on' the sandy waste, and right well
does it merit its name desert, for a more dismal
barren wilderness cannot be imagined; its surface
is all pumice and cinders, with nothing growing
on it but a few sage-bushes and dwarfed junipers.
Every step the animals make is fetlock-deep; and
dust, that nearly chokes and blinds us, comes
from every direction. On, and on, and on we
go, but no change, no hope of water.
Just before dark—when I begin to think I
have been guilty of an awful mistake, and
brought needless misery on both men and
animals—I push ahead of the train, in hope of
finding water, for the guide is utterly lost.
Suddenly I descry the tracks of the prong-buck
in the sand; hope revives, water must be near at
hand! Carefully I follow on their tracks, that
lead down a sloping bank of scoria, and slags of
lava, through a narrow gorge, with  rocks  on
7 © ~ O     7
either side that look as if they had been burnt in
a limekiln—to come out into a narrow valley,
where the sight of trees, grass, and water makes
my heart leap with delight.
Back I spur to meet the lagging train, toiling
on, parched with thirst, blinded with dust; hungry, weary, and exhausted. I guide them to the
valley, and at the sight of water, men and mules
seem to gain new life, rush wildly towards it,
plunge in, and drink as only the thirst-famished
can. Unsaddle and let the mules feed for two
hours, then light five fires, and keep them closely ■SB?
herded, although I have but very little dread of
farther pursuit. Supped on grilled antelope, and
got a few hours' sleep.
May 23rd.—All safe; no sign of being followed.
Off at dawn; fifteen miles more of this horrid
waste, and we begin ascending a ridge of moun-
© © o
tains, which I find is the watershed of the streams
flowing into the Columbia on one side and into
the Klamath river on the other; strike the headwaters of the Des Chutes or Fall river, and camp
in a fine grassy prairie belted with pine—the
Pinusponderosa. Here I determine to remaintwo
days, to allow resting-time for men and animals.
«/      7 O
May 25th.—All wonderfully recruited; rest
and good feeding soon repair a healthy body, be it
man's or quadruped's. I stroll off with my gun,
and observe that numbers of the pine-trees are
completely studded with acorns, just as nails
with large heads were driven into doors in olden
days. I had seen a piece of the bark filled with
acorns in San Francisco, and was there informed
it was the work of a woodpecker, but, to tell the
truth, thought I was being hoaxed; but here I
am in the midst of dozens of trees, with acorns
sticking out all over their trunks; it is no hoax,
for I saw the birds, that did it, and shot two of
This  singular acorn-storer is the Cali-
■ ■"•HP*"
fornian woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus),
evidently of very social habits. They assemble
in small flocks, climbing rapidly along the rough
bark of the pitch-pine, rapping here and there,
with their wedgelike beaks, to scare some drowsy
insect; inducing it to rush out, to be nipped, or
speared, with the barbed tongue, ere half-awake;
others, sitting on the topmost branches of the oaks
and pines, continually darted off after some fugitive moth or other winged insect, capturing it
much in the fashion of the flycatchers. The harsh
and discordant voice is made up for in beauty of
plumage. A tuft of scarlet feathers crowns the
head, and contrasts brilliantly with the glossy
bottle-green of the back and neck ; a white patch
on the forehead joins, by a narrow isthmus of
white, with a necklet of golden-yellow; the throat
is dark-green, and the under-parts of a pure white.
As I look over these stores of acorns, I am at
a loss to think for what purpose the birds place
them in the holes. In Cassin's jj Birds of America'
he quotes from Dr. Heerman and Mr. Kelly's
' Excursions in California.' B oth writers positively
state that these birds stow away acorns for winter
provisions, and the latter that he has seen them
doing it: 'I have* frequently paused from my
chopping to watch them with the acorns in their A DOUBTFUL   QUESTION.
bills, and have admired the adroitness with which
they tried it at different holes, until they found
one of its exact calibre.'
I have seen the acorns in the holes, and the
birds that are said to put them there, and
have no right to doubt the statements of other
observers; but it seems strange to me, that I
cannot find a single acorn exhibiting any evi-
O © J
dence of being eaten during the winter. These
were stored on the previous fall; winter has
passed away, and yet not a seed has been eaten,
as far as I can see. I opened the stomachs of
the two birds I shot, but not a trace of vegetable
matter was in either of them. Subsequently I
killed and examined the stomachs of a great many
specimens, but never detected anything save insect remains.
Does this woodpecker ever eat acorns? I think
not. More than this, when the insects die, or go
to sleep during the cold, snowy, biting winter
months, the woodpeckers, like all other sensible
birds, go southwards, and have no need to store
up a winter supply, as do quasi-hybernating
mammals. Then it occurred to me, that if they
really do take the trouble to bore holes, a work
of great time and labour, and into every hole
carefully drive a sound acorn that they never
TJ 2
; ; mmmmmm
make any use of, it is simply idle industry. As
a rule, birds are not such thriftless creatures. I
had no opportunity of watching the birds in acorn-
time—hence this storing is still to me a mystery
that needs further explanation.
I came suddenly on a flock of yellow-headed
blackbirds (Xanthocephalus icterocephalus), sitting on a clump of bushes skirting a small pool.
As they sit amidst the bright-green foliage, they
remind me of blossoms; the intense black of
the body-plumage shows out so conspicuously
against the orangelike yellow of the head, that
the colours seem too defined for a bird's livery,
and more bike the freaks  of colouring Nature
indulges in when tinting orchideous flowers.
I imagine this to be their utmost range north-
O ©
wards, for I never saw them after, although they
are frequent visitors to Texas, Illinois, and
Mexico. Strike the trail of a grizzly, follow it
for some distance, but fail in coming up with
my large-clawed friend.
May 26th.—I find I shall have to ferry the Des
Chutes river. Send on four of my men ahead,
to collect timber for a raft. Find, on arriving at
the river-bank, that a heap of dry timber has
been collected. With axes and an augur—and
here let me advise all who travel with pack- rerWSiMrass
horses or mules never to go without a three-inch
augur—we soon build a raft 12 feet long by
6£ feet wide; the timber is fastened together with
wooden trenails.
The stream makes a bend at this spot, and does
not run quite so swiftly, about eighty yards wide,
with a dry bank on the side we are, but swampy
on the opposite. We launch our raft; she floats
bike a boat, make ropes fast to her, and stow a
coil on board; with one man I commence
crossing, paddling with rough oars hewn from
a pine-branch. They pay-out rope as we near
the opposite bank; twice we whirl round, and
come very near being a wreck, but right again.
We are over. Now we make fast our rope, and
the men on the other side haul her back; and thus,
we tug her from side to side, heavily freighted;
we have made a very successful crossing, neither
losing nor damaging anything. The mules swam
the river, and also got safely over.
May 27th. — Fine morning: made an early
start; kept close along on the course of the
river for about twenty miles, following a ridge
lightly timbered. The opposite or east bank
is an enormous mass of black basaltic rock, extending several miles in length. The top is
like a table, reaching as  far as one could see^
-   mm 294
quite black, and not the vestige of a plant visible.
The black expanse had exactly the appearance
of a bed of rocks, over which the tide ebbed
and flowed. Crossed a creek fifteen miles from
camp, deep and swift, and about fifteen yards
wide ; five miles beyond this cross another creek,
about half the size. Leave the timber and come
out on a wide sandy kind of desert, covered with
wild-sage and stunted juniper-trees, frightfully
dusty, and most tiresome for the mules; no chance
of camping until quite over it, which is twenty
miles. After a weary march reach a creek, where
I stop; a capital camping-ground, with fine grass
and water. Passed close along the bases of the
Three Sisters, lofty mountains, at this time covered
with snow. Saw a great many abandoned lodges,
but no Indians. The sandy places were quite
alive with the Oregon horned toad (Tapaya
Douglassii), which is a lizard really very harm-'
less, and particularly ugly. Every stream too
was thronged with beaver.
May 2Sth.—Mules all in at 4 a.m. Got off in
good time: weather not nearly so cold. Looked
over the creek, but saw no gold, but any quantity of beaver-workings; trees four feet round
had been cut down by them. Passed through a
tract of lightly-timbered land and open grassy I
valleys; crossed a small creek about eight miles
from camp, descending rapidly all the way for
about eighteen miles.
Came on to the top of a high basaltic mountain, that seemed to offer an almost perpendicular
descent into a deep gorge or canon. I rode right
and left, but discovering no better place, down we
went; how the mules managed to scramble to the
bottom without falling head over heels I know
not, but we got safely down. I believe it would
have been utterly impossible to have got up over
it a second time. Through the gorge ran a large
swift stream, called by the Indians Wychus creek,
in which we found a good fording-place and got
over it; safely camped about, a mile below the
place we forded. The camp was completely shut
.in by almost vertical cliffs of basalt and tuffa,
covered thickly with what I take to be ancient
river-drift; the cliffs were, I should say, quite
100 feet high.
The great black butte down which we scrambled was a volcano, and an active one too, not
a very long time ago ; streams of lava, just bike
slag, that had run in a molten state as if from
out a huge glass furnace, reached from its summit to its base; and the red cindery earth, on
either side this congealed stream, told plainly
i 296
enough how fearfully hot it must have been.
One would imagine this district was entirely
volcanic, the great desert-waste we crossed being
composed of pumice, scoria, and ashes. Perhaps
these lesser hills were safety-valves to the more
conspicuous mountains in the coast-range of
British Columbia and Washington Territory—
Mounts Baker, Reiney, St. Helens, and others.
Several pillars, composed of a kind of conglomerate, quite away from all the surrounding rocks,
stand as if man had hewn or rather built them—
ghostly obelisks, that have a strange and unusual
look. I suppose the portions that once joined
them to the mass, from which they were detached,
must have been crumbled off by Time's fingers,
and these solitary pedestals left as records.
Round them, too, were scores of tiny heaps of
boulders, built, as I am informed, by the Snake
Indians, who suppose these pillars are the remains
of spirits that have been turned into stone; but
for what object they really pile up these little
altars I could never discover, though the Indians
tell you as a powerful ' medicine'; but who can
say what that means?
May 29th.—All night it rained in torrents,
and I do not think I ever saw so dark a night; the
rain put out all our fires, and I could neither see \
men or mules, although close to them. Got the
mules together at 7 a.m., but did not make an
© 7
early start, in consequence of the men being
tired from want of sleep: we managed to start at
eight o'clock.   Our first task was to get out of the
o ©
gorge.    It was a most tedious and even danger-
©   © ©
ous job, for the ground was loose, and constantly
broke away from under the mules' feet, but at
J 7
last we managed to scramble to the top.
For twenty miles farther it was a continued
series of uphill and downhill, all loose basaltic
ground, and very hard to travel over. Descending a long sandy hill we came to an Indian
reserve (the Warm Spring reservation); and we
encamp. The house is a large quadrangular
building of squared blocks, loopholed for shooting
through. Six white men five here, and the
Indians on the reservation are the Des Chutes
tribe; they cultivate a small quantity of ground
very badly. All hands are in a great state of
ferment. A band of Snake Indians have just
made a raid on the reservation, driven off seventeen head of stock, and are hourly expected to
return. This is cheering, considering I must pass
the night here.    But, luckily, no Indians came.
May 30th.—I should be seventy miles from
the camp I am to join; start with one man as a 298
companion at three o'clock in the morning. The
silver stream of light from the unclouded moon
illumines the trail we follow as brightly as sun-
©    j
shine. The mules are to follow. As day dawns
an open plain is seen, spreading far away right and
left, and along it a horseman gallops towards us.
As he nears I make him out to be an Indian on
a skewballed horse. We stop and parley, and I
find he is a Snake scout; both horse and rider
are splendid specimens of their kind. A circle of
eagle's feathers fastened to the skin of the ermine
surrounds his head, and long raven black hair
covers his neck: a scarlet blanket, elaborately
beaded, hangs from his shoulders; a broad
wampum-belt contains his knife and powder-
horn, and in his right hand he bears a rifle.
But very little paint daubs his shining-red skin,
through which every muscle stands out as if cast
in bronze; he is a handsome savage, if there ever
was one. As we ride in opposite directions, I cannot help thinking that men and mules will stand
but little chance if all the Snakes are like to this
sable warrior. Reached a cabin at the Tve creek
after doing forty-five miles, where we remained
for the night.
May 31st.—Ride in amidst the tents of the
Commission, anxiously awaiting my arrival.  The REACH   THE   COMMISSION  CAMP.
following day men and mules arrive safely. So
ended my journey through the wilder part of
Oregon, having accomplished a hazardous, wearisome journey, making my way a distance of
several hundred miles without any trails, or, if
any, simply trails used by Indians to reach their
hunting or fishing-grounds; sleeping during the
whole time in the open, air, a saddle my only
pillow. Apart from the anxiety, harass, and want
of rest, and the necessity of guarding against the
hostile Klamaths, to save the mules and our
scalps, we all enjoyed -the journey thoroughly,
not even a cold resulting from'the exposure. THE  SHARP-TAILED   GROUSE.
The Sharp-tailed Grouse (Pediocostes Phasia-
nellus, Baird; Tetrao Phasianellus, Linn.; Centro-
cercus Phasianellus, Jardine; Phasianus Colum-
bianus, Ord.)—Specific characters : The tail
consists of eighteen feathers—prevailing colours
black, white, and umber-yellow ; the back
marked with transverse bars, the wings with
round conspicuous white spots—under pure
white ; the breast and sides thickly marked with
V-shaped blotches of dark-brown; length about
18-00; wing, 8-50; tail, 5'23 inches.
This beautiful bird is alike estimable, whether
we consider him in reference to his field qualities
(therein being all a grouse ought to be, rising
with a loud rattling whirr, and going off straight
© ©        o ©
as an arrow, lying well to dogs, and frequenting
open grassy prairies), or viewed as a table dainty,
mm -^^.
(Pediocaetes phasianellus).  MAKES  A DELICIOUS  GRILL.
when bowled  over and grilled.
Though  his
flesh is brown, yet for delicacy of flavour—game
in every sense of the word—I'll back him against
any other bird in the Western wilds. This grouse
appears to replace the Prairie-hen (Cupidonia
cupido) on all the prairies west of the Rocky
Mountains. By the fur-traders it is called the
' spotted chicken'; for all grouse, by the traders
and half-breeds, are called chickens! and desig-
\ ©
nated specifically by either habit or colour—such
as blue chickens, wood chickens, white chickens
(ptarmigan), &c. &c.; the skis-kin of the Kootanie
The tail is cuneate and graduated, and about
two-thirds the length of the wing ; the central
pair, considerably longer than the rest, terminate
in a point—hence the name sharp-tailed.
The singular mixture of colours (white, black,
and brownish-yellow), the dark blotches, transverse bars, and V-shaped marks of dark-brown,
exactly resemble the ground on which the bird is
destined to pass its life. The ochreish-yellow
angular twigs and dead leaves of the Artemisia, or
wild-sage ; the sandy soil, dried and bleached to
a dingy-white; the brown of the withered bunch-
grass ; the weather-beaten fragments of rock, clad
in liveries of sombre-coloured lichens, admirably
/ 02
harmonise with the colours in which Nature
has wisely robed this feathered tenant of the
Often, when the sharp crack of the gun, and the
ping of the fatal leaden messengers, has rung the
death-peal of one of these prairie-chiefs, I have
watched the whirring wing drop powerless, and
the arrowy flight stop in mid-career, and, with
a heavy thud, the bird come crashing down.
Rushing to pick him up, and keeping my eye
steadily on the spot where he fell, I have felt
a little mystified at not seeing my friend: here
he fell, I am quite sure; so I trudge up and down,
circle round and round, until a slight movement
—an effort to run, or a dying struggle—attracts
my attention, and then I find I have been the
whole time close to the fallen bird. But so
closely do the back and outspread wings resemble the dead foliage and sandy soil, that it
is almost impossible for the most practised eye
to detect these birds when crouching on the
ground; and there can be no doubt that it as
effectually conceals them from birds of prey.
This bird is abundantly distributed on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, ranging right
and left of the Boundary-line, the 49th parallel
of north latitude.    It is particularly abundant I
on the tobacco-plains near the Kootanie river,
round the Osoyoos lakes, and in the valley of
the Columbia.
I have never seen this grouse on the western
side of the Cascade range.    This bird is also
found in the Red River settlements, in the north
of Minnesota, as well as on the shores of Hudson's
Bay, and on the Mackenzie river. Mr. Ross
notes it as far north as the Arctic Circle.
Of the different species of grouse I met with
in my rambles (described in vol. ii.) not one has
come so often under my observation as this, the
sharp-tailed grouse. Its favourite haunt is on open
grassy plains,—in the morning keeping itself
concealed in the thick long grass, but coming in
about midday to the streams to drink, and dust
itself in the sandy banks; it seldom goes into the
timber, and, if it does, always remains close to
the prairie, never retiring into the depths of the
They lay their eggs on the open prairie, in
a tuft of grass, or by the foot of a small hillock;
nesting early in the spring, and laying from twelve
to fourteen eggs. The nest is a hole scratched
out in the earth, a few grass-stalks and root-fibres
laid carelessly and loosely over the bottom ; the
eggs are of a dark rusty-brown, with small splashes
!\ 304
or speckles of darker brown thickly spattered
over them.
After nesting-time, they first appear in coveys
or broods about the middle of August; the young
birds are then about three parts grown, strong on
the wing, and afford admirable sport. At this
time they live by the margins of small streams,
where there is thin timber and underbrush, with
plenty of sandy banks to dust in. About the
middle of September and on into October they
begin to pack; first two or three coveys get
together, then flock joins flock, until they
gradually accumulate into hundreds. On the
first appearance of snow they begin to perch,
settling on high dead pine-trees, the dead
branches being a favourite locality; or, should
there be any farms, they pitch round on the top
of the snake-fences. At the Hudson's Bay
trading-post at Fort Colville there were large
wheat-stubbles; in these, after the snow fell,
they assembled in vast numbers. Wary and
shy they are now, and most difficult to get at;
the cause being, I apprehend, the snow rendering
every moving thing so conspicuous, it is next
to impossible for dogs to hunt them.
Their food in the summer consists principally
of  berries — the   snowberry   (Symphoricarpus
racemosus), and the bearberry (Arctostaphylos
uva-ursi). The leaves of this latter plant are
used to a great extent, both by Indians and
traders, to mix with or use instead of tobacco,
and called kini-kinick; the leaves being dried
over the fire, and rubbed up in the hand to
powder, and smoked in a pipe. The wild
roseberries (Rosa blanda and Rosa mirantha),
and many others, usually designated huckleberries, constitute the food generally consumed
by these birds during summer and autumn;
although I have often found quantities of wheat-
grains and larvae of insects, grass-seeds, and
small wild flowers in their crops. • Their thickly-
feathered feet enable them to run upon the snow
with ease and celerity, and they dig holes and
burrow underneath it much after the fashion of
the ptarmigan.
During the two winters we spent at Colville,
flocks of these birds congregated about the corn-
stacks and hayricks at our mule-camp, and at
the Hudson's Bay trading-post, Fort Colville.
The temperature at that time was often down to
29° and 30° below zero, and the snow three feet
deep ; yet these birds did not at all appear to
suffer from such intense cold, and were strong,
wild,  and fat during the entire winter, which
VOL. I. x
/ 306
lasted from October until near April before the
snow entirely cleared.
In this valley (the Colville valley) the Commissioner and myself had, I think, as brisk and
nice a bit of shooting as I ever enjoyed. If
I remember aright, it was towards the end
of September, and the birds had packed. We
rode down one clear bright morning, about six
miles, to the Horse-Guards. Do not at once
hastily imagine any analogy between Colville valley and, Whitehall. The heavy man, with his
heavy boots, heavy sword, heavy dress, heavy
walk, and heaviest of all heavy horses—so conspicuous a feature in our London sights—is represented here by the genuine savage, thin and
lissom as an eel; his equipment a whip, a lasso, a
scalping-knife, and sometimes a trade-gUn; a pad
his saddle, and the bands of horses, some two hundred in number, his charge. A stream of cold clear
water rambles quietly down the hillside; and
as the hills are thickly dotted with bunch-grass,
affording most glorious pasturage, the Hudson's
Bay fort horses are always pastured here, and
guarded by Indians; hence comes the name—
' the Horse-Guards.'
The Colville valley is, roughly speaking, about
thirty miles long, the hills on one side being GROUSE-SHOOTING AT COLVILLE VALLEY.
densely studded with pine-trees, and on the other
quite clear of timber, but thickly clothed up to
their rounded summits with the bunch-grass.
This is a peculiar kind of grass, that grows in tufts,
and its fattening qualities are truly wonderful.
The little stream at the Horse-Guards has on
either side of it a belt of thin brush, and in this,
and in the long grass close to the stream, we
found the sharp-tailed grouse. There were hundreds of them—up they went, and, right and left,
down they came again! It might have been the
novelty of the scene, causing an undue anxiety
and excitement, or perhaps it was the fiver,
or powder, or something else—who knows what?
—but this I do know, that neither of us shot our
best, but we made a glorious bag nevertheless.
They rise with a loud rattling noise, and utter a
peculiar cry, like ' chuck, chuck, chuck,' rapidly
and shrilly repeated. On first rising the wings are
moved with great rapidity, but after getting
some distance off they sail along, the wings being
almost quiescent.
They pair very early in the spring, long before
the snow has gone off the ground, and their love-
meetings are celebrated in a somewhat curious
fashion. By the half-breeds and fur-traders these
festivities are called chicken or pheasant dances.
x 2
L= 308
I was lucky enough to be present at several of
these balls whilst at Fort Colville. Their usual
time of assembling is about sunrise, and late in
the afternoon; they select a high round-topped
mound; and often, ere the fair are wooed and
won, and the happy couple start on their domestic cares, the mound is trampled and beaten bare
as a road.
I had often longed to be present at one of
these chicken-dances; and it so happened that,
riding up into the hills early one spring morning,
my most ardent wishes were fully realised. The
peculiar ' chuck-chuck' came clear and shrill upon
the crisp frosty air, and told me a dance was afoot.
I tied up my horse and my dog, and crept
quietly along towards the knoll from whence the
sound appeared to come. Taking advantage of
some rocks, I weazled myself along, and, without exciting observation, gained the shelter of
an old pine-stump close to the summit of a hillock ; and there, sure enough, the ball was at its
Reader, can you go back to the days of your
first pantomime, your first Punch-and-Judy, or
bring to your remembrance the fresh, bounding,
joyous delight that you felt in the days of your
youth, when you had before your eyes some long
and deeply-wished-for novelty ? If you can, you
will be able to imagine my childish pleasure when
looking for the first time on a chicken-dance.
There were about eighteen or twenty birds present
on this occasion, and it was almost impossible to
distinguish the males from the females, the
plumage being so nearly alike; but I imagined the
females were the passive ones. The four birds
nearest to me were head to head, like gamecocks
in fighting attitude—the neck-feathers ruffed up,
the little sharp tail elevated straight on end, the
wings dropped close to the ground, but keeping
up by a rapid vibration a continued throbbing or
drumming sound.
They circled round and round each other in
slow waltzing-time, always maintaining the same
attitude, but never striking at or grappling with
each other; then the pace increased, and one hotly
pursued the other until he faced about, and tete-
d-tSte went waltzing round again; then they did a
sort of ' Cure' performance, jumping about two
feet into the air until they were winded; and then
they strutted about and ' struck an attitude,' like
an acrobat after a successful tumble. There were
others marching about, with their tails and heads
as high as they could stick them up, evidently
doing the 'heavy swell;' others, again, did not 310        THE  QUESTION  OF  ACCLIMATISATION.
appear to have any well-defined ideas what they
ought to do, and kept flying up and pitching
down again, and were manifestly restless and
excited—perhaps rejected suitors contemplating
something desperate. The music to this eccentric dance was the loud 'chuck-chuck' continuously repeated, and the strange throbbing sound
produced by the vibrating wings. I saw several
balls* after this, but in every one the same
series of strange evolutions were carried out.
In reference to this bird's adaptability to acclimatisation in our own country, it appears to me
to be most admirably fitted for our hill and
moorland districts. It is very hardy, capable of
bearing a temperature of 30° to 33° below zero;
feeds on seeds, berries, and vegetable matter—
in every particular analogous to what it could
find in our own hill-country; a good breeder,
having usually from twelve to fourteen young at
a brood; nests early, and would come to shoot
about the same time as our own grouse. Snow
does not hurt them in the slightest degree; they
O © * J
burrow into it, and feed on what they can find
underneath it. The two specimens in the British
Museum I shot in the Colville valley; they are
male and female, in winter plumage; and anyone,
who may feel an interest in getting these birds THE  BALD-HEADED  EAGLE.
brought home, may there see for himself what
fine handsome creatures they are.
But then comes the question—how are they
to be obtained, and how brought to England ?   I
© ©
do not imagine it would be a very difficult or
expensive matter; the young birds in May could
be easily obtained, at any point up the Columbia
river, by employing the Indians to bring them to
the riverside; and once on board steamer, they
could be as easily fed as fowls. The great difficulty I have always had is in bringing the
young birds from the interior to a vessel; they
always die when transported on the backs of
animals, however carefully packed. The continued jerking motion given to birds packed on
the back of a mule or horse as he walks along
has, according to my experience, been the sole
cause of their dying ere you could reach water-
carriage ; but the fact of their being so close to
water as they are along the Columbia river, would
render their being brought home a very easy task.
The Bald-headed Eagle (Haliactus leucoce-
phalus) is seen but seldom, as during its breeding-time it retires into the hills, and usually
chooses a lofty pine as its nesting-place. Two
of them had a nest near the Chilukweyuk lake,
which was quite inaccessible, of immense size, THE EFFECTS  OF  COLD.
and built entirely of sticks—the same nest being
invariably used year after year by the same
pair of birds. Their food consists mainly of fish,
and it is a curious sight to watch an eagle plunge
into the water, seize a heavy salmon, and rise
with it without any apparent difficulty. Both
the osprey and bald-headed eagle fish with their
claws, never, as far as I have observed them,
striking at a fish with the beak; during winter
they collect, young and old together, round the
Sumass lake; and as the cold becomes intense,
they sit three and four on the limb of a pine-
tree, or in a semi-stupid state, all their craft and
courage gone, blinking and drowsy as an owl in
I have often, when walking under the trees
where these half-torpid monarchs of the air sit
side by side, fired and knocked one out from
betwixt its neighbours, without causing them
the slightest apparent alarm; three I picked up
one morning frozen stiff as marble, having fallen
dead from off their perch.
Why birds so powerfully winged should prefer
to remain where the winters are sufficiently
intense to freeze them to death, rather than go
southward, where food is equally abundant, is a
mystery I am unable to explain.    Towards the AN  IMPUDENT  THEFT.
fall of the year, when the hunting and fishing-
grounds of the Old-man (Sea-la-ca, as the
Indians designate the eagle, on account of its
white head) grow scant of game, hunger prompts
them to be disagreeably bold. Constantly a fat
mallard, that I had taken a vast amount of trouble
to stalk, was pounced upon by a watchful eagle,
and borne off, ere the report of my gun was lost
in the hills, or the smoke had cleared away;
indeed, I have sometimes given the robber the
benefit of a second barrel, as punishment for his
thievery. Numberless ducks have been lost to me
in this way. This eagle is by far the most abundant of the falcon tribe in British Columbia, and
always a conspicuous object in ascending a river;
he is seated on the loftiest tree or rocky pinnacle,
and soars off circling round, screaming bike a tortured demon, as if in remonstrance at such an
impudent intrusion into its solitudes. The adult
plumage is not attained until the fourth year from
the nest.
Mosquitos (Culexpinguis,uoy. sp.)—Reader,
if you have never been in British Columbia,
then, I say, you do not know anything about
insect persecution; neither can you form the
faintest idea of the terrible suffering foes so
seemingly insignificant as the bloodthirsty horse- 314
fly (Tabanus), the tiny burning fly (beulot or
sand-fly of the trappers), and the well-known
and deservedly-hated mosquito, are capable of
A wanderer from my boyhood, I have met with
these pests in various parts of our globe—in the
country of Czernomorzi, among the Black Sea
Cossacks, on the plains of Troy, up on Mount
Olympus, amid the gorgeous growths of a tropical forest, where beauty and malaria, twin
brothers, walk hand-in-hand—away in the deep
dismal solitudes of the swamps on the banks of
the Mississippi, on the wide grassy tracts of the
Western prairies, and on the snow-clad summits
of the Rocky Mountains.
Widely remote and singularly opposite as to
climate as are these varied localities, yet, as these
pests are there in legions, I imagined that I had
endured the maximum of misery they were
capable of producing. I was mistaken; all my
experience, all my vaunted knowledge of their
numbers, all I had seen and suffered, was as
nothing to what I subsequently endured. On
the Sumass prairie, and along the banks of the
Fraser river, the mosquitos are, as a Yankee
would say, ' a caution.'
In the summer our work, that of cutting the A PLEASANT  CAMP.
Boundary-line, was along the low and comparatively flat land intervening between the seaboard
and the foot of the Cascade Mountains. Our
camp was on the Sumass prairie, and was in
reality only an open patch of grassy land, through
which wind numerous streams from the mountains, emptying themselves into a large shallow
lake,, the exit of which is into the Fraser by a
short stream, the Sumass river.
In May and June this prairie is completely
covered with water. The Sumass river, from
the rapid rise of the Fraser, reverses its course,
and flows back into the lake instead of out of it.
The lake fills, overflows, and completely floods
the lower lands. On the subsidence of the
waters, we pitched our tents on the edge of a
lovely stream. Wildfowl were in abundance;
the streams were alive with fish; the mules and
horses revelling in grass kneedeep—we were in
a second Eden!
We had enjoyed about a week at this delightful
camp, when the mosquitos began to get rather
troublesome. We knew these most unwelcome
visitors were to be expected, from Indian information. I must confess I had a vague suspicion
that the pests were to be mora dreaded than we
were willing to believe; for the crafty redskins
H 316
had stages erected, or rather fastened to stout
poles driven like piles into the mud at the bottom of the lake. To these large platforms over
the water they all retire, on the first appearance
of the mosquitos.
In about four or five days the increase was
something beyond all belief, and really terrible. I can convey no idea of the numbers,
except by saying they were in dense clouds
truly, and not figuratively, a thick fog of
mosquitos. Night or day it was just the
same; the hum of these bloodthirsty tyrants
was incessant. We ate them, drank them,
breathed them; nothing but the very thickest
leathern clothing was of the slightest use as a
protection against their lancets. The trousers
had to be tied tightly round the ankle, and the
coat-sleeve round the wrist, to prevent their
getting in; but if one more crafty than the
others found out a needle-hole, or a thin spot,
it would have your blood in a second. We
lighted huge fires, fumigated the tents, tried
every expedient we could think of, but all in
vain. They seemed to be quite happy in a
smoke that would stifle anything mortal, and,
what was worse, they grew thicker every day.
Human endurance has its limits.    A man can- A  K-NOBBY APPEARANCE.
not stand being eaten alive. It was utterly impossible to work; one's whole time was occupied
in slapping viciously at face, head, and body,
stamping, grumbfing, and savagely slaughtering
hecatombs of mosquitos. Faces rapidly assumed
an irregularity of outline anything but consonant
with the strict fines of beauty; each one looked
as if he had gone in for a heavy fight, and lost.
Hands increased in size with painful rapidity,
and—without intending a slang joke—one was
in a k-nobby state from head to heel.
The wretched mules and horses were driven
wild, racing about like mad animals, dashing into
the water and out again, in among the trees;
but, go where they would, their persecutors stuck
to them in swarms. The poor dogs sat and
howled piteously, and, prompted by a wise instinct
to avoid their enemies, dug deep holes in the
earth; and backing in lay with their heads at the
entrance, whining, snapping, and shaking their
ears, to prevent the mosquitos from getting in
at them.
There was no help for it—our camp had to be
abandoned ; we were completely vanquished and
driven away—the work of about a hundred men
stopped by tiny flies. Our only chance of escape
was to retire into the hills, and return to complete 318
our work late in the autumn, when they disappear.
Hard wind is the only thing that quells them;
but it simply drives them into the grass, to
return on its lulling, if possible, more savagely
hungry. Quaint old Spenser knew this; he says,
speaking of gnats:—
JT © ©
No man nor beast may rest or take repast
For their sharp sounds and no)'Ous injuries,
Till the fierce northern wind with blustering blast
Doth blow them quite away, and in the ocean cast.
My notebook, as I open it now, is a mausoleum
of scores of my enemies; there they lay, dry and
flat; round some of them a stain of blood tells
how richly they merited their untimely end.
One thing has always puzzled me in the history
of these ravenous cannibals—what on earth can
they get to feed on, when there are no men or
animals ? I brought home specimens, of course;
and I am by no means sure I feel any great
pleasure in finding my foe to be a new species,
but it is, and named Culex pinguis, because it
was fatter and rounder than any of its known
The habits of this new mosquito are, in every
detail, the same as all the known species. The
female lays her eggs, which are long and oval in
shape, in the water; then aided by her hind-legs, A READY-MADE  CANOE.
she twists about the eggs, and tightly glues them
together, into a very beautiful little boat-shaped
bundle, that floats and drifts about in the water.
In sunny weather the eggs are speedily hatched,
and the larvaj lead an aquatic life. They are
very active, diving to the bottom with great
rapidity, and as quickly ascending to the surface to  breathe;  the respiratory organs being
situated near the tail, on the eighth segment of
© ©
the abdomen, they hang, as it were, in the
water, head downwards. After shifting the skin
three or four times, they change into the pupa
form, in which state they move about, even more
actively than before, aided by the tail, and two
organs like paddles, attached to it. In this stage
of their existence they never feed (I only wish
they would always remain in this harmless condition) ; and although they still suspend themselves
in the water, the position is reversed, the breath
ing organs being now placed on the chest.
The final change to the perfect or winged
state is most curious, and well worth careful
attention. The pupa-case splits from end to
end; and, looking moist and miserable, with
crumpled wings, the little fly floats on its
previous home, an exquisite canoe of Nature's
own contriving.    A breeze of wind sufficient to 320
ripple the water is fatal to it now, as shipwreck is inevitable; but if all is calm and conducive to safety, the little fly dries, the wings
expand, it inhales the air, and along with it
strength and power to fly; then bidding goodbye
to the frail barque, wings its way to the land, and
begins a war of persecution.
Mosquitos never venture far over the water
after once quitting their skin-canoe: this fact the
wily savage has taken advantage of. During
' the reign of terror' the Indians never come on
shore if they can help it; and if they do, they
take good care to flog every intruder out of the
canoes before reaching the stage.
These stages, each with a family of Indians
living on them, have a most picturesque appearance. The little fleet of canoes are moored
to the poles, and the platform reached by a ladder
made of twisted cedar-bark. Often have I slept
on these stages among the savages, to avoid
being devoured. But I am not quite sure if one
gains very much by the change: in the first
place, if you are restless, and roll about in your
sleep, you stand a very good chance of finding
yourself soused in the lake. The perfumes—
varied but abundant—that regale your nose are
not such as are wafted from ' tropic isles' or LAG0MYS  MINIMUS.
'Araby the blest.' I shall not shock my fair
readers with any comparison—you must imagine
it is not agreeable. Dogs also live on these platforms ; for the Indian dog is always with his master, sharing bed as well as board. These canine
favourites are not exempt from persecutors; like
the giant of old, they at once ' smell the blood of
an Englishman,' and will have some; but, after
all, the night steals away, you know not how,
until the dawn, blushing over the eastern hilltops, rouses all the dreaming world—except
mosquitos, that never sleep.
On the eastern side of the Cascades the
scenery and general physical condition of the
country materially changes, and the Tabanus and
burning-fly become the ruling persecutors.
Lagomys minimus (Lord, sp. nov.)—The
Commissioner, myself, a few men, and a small
train of pack-mules, set out to visit some of the
stations on the Boundary-line, east of the Cascades. Our route lay along the valley of the
Shimilkameen river, to strike Ashtnolow, a tributary that led up into the mountains, the course of
Which we were to follow as far as practicable.
We had a defightful trip, through a district indescribably lovely.
There is a wild and massive grandeur about
VOL. i. Y 322
; l-l
the eastern side of the Cascades^ unlike the
scenery of the west or coast slope, which is
densely wocded. Hereit was like riding through
a succession of parks, covered with grass and
flowers of varied species.
We reached the junction of the two streams,
and camped, just as the sun, disappearing behind
the western hills, tinted with purple twilight the
ragged peaks of the rocks that shut us in on
every side. Scarce a sound of bird or beast disturbed the silence of the forest, and save the
babble of the stream, as it rippled over the
shingle, all nature was soon hushed in deathlike
sleep.    I could dimly make out in the fading
fight the grim hills we had to climb, towering
© © ©
up like mighty giants ; the clear white snow,
covering their summits, contrasted strangely with
the sombre pine-trees, thickly covering the lower
portion of the mountains.
We had a stiff climb before us, and my hopes
were high in expectation of bowling over bighorn (Ovis montana) and ptarmigan. For some
distance we scrambled up the sides of the
brawling torrent, whose course, bike true love,
was none of the smoothest, being over and among
vast fragments of rock, that everywhere covered
the hillside.  From amidst these relics of destruc- \
tion grew the Douglas pine and ponderous cedar
(Thuja gigantea). Here the ascent was easy
enough, but on reaching a greater altitude, the
climbing became anything but a joke.
We at last reached a level plateau .near the
summit, and lay down on the soft mossy grass,
near a stream that came trickling down from the
melting snow.
Close to my couch was a talus of broken
granite, that Old Time and the Frost King between
© * ©
them had crumbled away from a mass of rocks
above. As I contemplated this heap of rocks, a
cry like a plaintive whistle suddenly attracted
my attention ; it evidently came from amongst
the stones. I listened and kept quiet. Again
and again came the whistle, but nowhere could
I see the whistler.    A slight movement at length
© ©
betrayed him, and I could clearly make out a
little animal sitting bolt upright, like a begging-
dog, his seat a flat stone in the middle of the heap.
I had a load of small-shot in one barrel, in-,
tended for ptarmigan; raising my gun slowly
and cautiously to my shoulder, I fired as I lay on
the ground. The sharp ringing crack as I touched
the trigger—the first, perhaps, that had ever
awoke the echoes of the mountain—was the,
death-knell of the poor little musician.
Y 2
; 324
I picked him up, and imagine my delight when
for the first time I held a new Lagomys in my
hand. Having made out what he was, the next
thing to be done was to watch for others—to
find out what they did, and how they passed the
time in their stony citadel. I had not long to
wait; they soon came peeping slily out of
their hiding-places, and, inferring safety from
silence, sat upon the stones and cheerily chorused
to each other. The least noise, and the whistle
was sounded sharper and more shrill—the danger-
signal, when one and all took headers among the
© 7 ©
I soon observed they were busy at work,
carrying in dry grass, fir-fronds, roots, and
moss, and constructing a nest in the clefts
between the stones, clearly for winter-quarters.
The nests were of large size, some of them consisting of as much material as would fill a good-
sized basket. One nest was evidently the
combined work of several blttle labourers, and
destined for their joint habitation.
There were no provisions stored away, neither
do I think they garner any for winter use, but
simply hybernate in the warm nest; which, of
course, is thickly covered with snow during the THE  LITTLE  CHEIF  HARE.
intense cold of these northern latitudes, thus
more effectually preventing radiation and waste
of animal heat. Their food consists entirely of
grass, which they nibble much after the fashion
of our common rabbit. They never burrow or
dig holes in the ground, but pass their lives
among the loose stones. Who can fail to trace
the evidence of Divine care in colouring the fur
of this defenceless creature in a garb exactly
© J
resembling the grey lichen-covered fragments
amongst which he is destined to pass his life ?
So closely does the animal approximate in appearance to an angular piece of rock when sitting
up, that unless he moves it takes sharp eyes to
see him; and the cry or whistle is so deceptive
that I imagined it far distant, when the animal
© *
was close to me.
\ The species described and figured by Sir John
Richardson—F.B.A., plate 19, Lepus (Lagomys)
the blttle Cheif Hare—I first saw at
Chilukweyuk lake, and next on the trail leading
from Fort Hope, on the Fraser river, to Fort Colville.    The blttle fellows were in a narrow gorge,
O       ©    *
as well as among loose stones. It was about the
same date as in the preceding year that I had
seen Lagomys minimus making its nest; but here
not a trace of nest could I see, nor any evidence
of an attempt to make one. I soon after returned
again by the same trail. The snow having now
fallen to the depth of about six inches, completely
covering up the rocks and stones, all the animals
had disappeared; and although I searched most
carefully, there was not a hole or track in the
snow, to show they had ever left their quarters
to feed or wander about.
As it was quite impossible a nest could have
been made in the interim, it is perfectly certain
they hybernate in holes without a nest; whereas
Lagomys minimus, hiving at a much greater altitude, makes a nest to sleep through the winter.
Lagomys minimus (Lord, sp. nov.).—Sp.
Char. : Differs from Lepus (Lagomys)princeps of
Sir J. Richardson (F.B.A., vol. i. p. 227, pi. 19)
in being much smaller. Predominant colour of
back dark-grey, tinged faintly with umber-yellow,
—more vivid about the shoulders, but gradually
shading off on the sides and belly to dirty-white;
feet white, washed over with yellowish-brown;
ears large, black inside, the outer rounded margin
edged with white; eye very small, and intensely
black; whiskers long, and composed of about an
equal number of white and black hairs.
Measurement: Head and body, 6 J inches; head, GENERAL DIFFERENCES.
2 inches;  nose to auditory opening, 1^ inch;
height of ear from behind, 1 inch.
The skull differs in being generally smaller;
the cranial portion of the skull in its superior
outline is much narrower and smoother. The
nasal bones are shorter and broader, and rounded
at their posterior articulation, instead of being
deeply notched, as in L. princeps. Distance from
anterior molar to incisors much less; auditory
bullae much smaller. Incisors shorter and
straighter, and very deeply grooved on the
anterior surface. Molars smaller, but otherwise
similar in form.    Length of skull, 1£ inch.
General differences from Lagomys princeps:—
First, in being smaller, 1-jr inch shorter in total
length; the ear, measured from behind, \ inch
shorter; the colour generally darker, especially
the lower third of the back. Secondly, in the
structural differences of the skull; for although
these differences are not prominent or well-defined,
yet they are unquestionable specific variations.
Thirdly, in the habit of constructing a nest of
hay for the winter sleep, and in hiving at a much
greater altitude.
There is a strange indescribable delight in
discovery, and in finding animals for the first time
in their native haunts, animals that before one had II
vaguely heard or only read of; thus digging, as
it were, from Nature's exhaustless mine, fresh
wonders of Divine handiwork on which eye had
not before gazed.
Hummingbirds. — Hummingbirds, and the
wild tangled loveliness of tropical vegetation,
appear to be so closely linked together, that we
are apt to think the one essential to the existence
of the other.
We naturally (at least I did in my earlier
days) associate these tiniest gems of the feathered
creation with glowing sunshine, gorgeous flowers,
grotesque orchids—palms, plaintains, bananas, and
blacks. This is all true enough, and if we take
that large slice of the American continent betwixt
the Amazon, the Rio Grande, and the Gila (embracing Guiana, New Granada, Central America,
Mexico, and the West Indian islands), as the home
of hummingbirds, we shall pretty truthfully define, what is usually assumed to be, the geographical range of this group—a group entirely confined to America. Within the above limits, the
great variety of species, the most singular in form
and brilliant in plumage, are met with.
Gazing on these gems of the air, one would
suppose that Nature had exhausted all her skill
in lavishly distributing the richest profusion of NOHTH-'WESTERN  HTJMMING-BIRDS. ii    m >
colours, and in exquisitely mingling every imaginable tint and shade, to adorn these diminutive
creatures, in a livery more lustrously brilliant
than was ever fabricated by the loom, or metalworker's handicraft.
But away from the tropics and its feathered
wonders, to the wild solitudes of the Rocky
Mountains,—it is there I want you in imagination to wander with me, and to picture to yourself, which you can easily do if you possess a
naturalist's love of discovery, the delight I experienced when, for the first time, I saw hummingbirds up in the very regions of the 'Ice King.'
Early in the month of May, when the sun
melts down the doors of snow and ice, and sets
free imprisoned nature, I was sent ahead of the
astronomical party employed in making the
Boundary-bine to cut out a trail, and bridge any
streams too deep to ford. The first impediment
met with was at the Little Spokan river,—little
only as compared with the Great Spokan, into
which it flows. The larger stream leads from
the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, and
flows on to join the Columbia.
It was far too deep to be crossed by any
expedient short of bridging; so a bridge had to
be built, an operation involving quite a week's 3a0
delay. The place chosen, and the men set to
work, my leisure time was devoted to collectingi
The snow still lingered in large patches about
the hollows and sheltered spots. Save a modest
violet or humble rock-blossom, no flower had
ventured to open its petals, except the brilliant
pink Ribes, or flowering currant, common in
every English cottage-garden.
Approaching a large cluster of these gay-looking bushes, my ears were greeted with a sharp
thrum—a sound I knew well—from the wings of
a hummingbird, as it darted past me. The name
by which these birds are commonly known has
arisen from the noise produced by the wings
(very like the sound of a driving-belt used in
machinery, although of course not nearly so loud),
whilst the little creature, poised over a flower,
darts its slender beak deep amidst the corolla—not
to sip nectar, in my humble opinion, but to
capture drowsy insect revellers, that assemble in
these attractive drinking-shops, and grow tipsy
on the sweets gratuitously provided for them.
Soon a second whizzed by me, and others followed
in rapid succession; and, when near enough to
see distinctly, the bushes seemed literally to
gleam with the flashing colours of swarms  (I A QUARRELSOME PARTY.
know  no better word) of hummingbirds  surrounding the entire clump of Ribes.
' From flower to flower, where wild bees flew and sung,
As countless, small, and musical as they
Showers of bright hummingbirds came down, and plied
The same ambrosial task with slender bill,
Extracting honey hidden in those bells
Whose richest blossoms grew pale beneath their blaze,
Of twinkling winglets hov'ring o'er their petals,
Brilliant as rain-drops when the western sun
Sees his own miniature beams in each.'
Seating myself on a log, I watched this busy
assemblage for some time. They were all male
birds, and two species were plainly discernible.
Chasing each other in sheer sport, with a rapidity
Of flight and intricacy of evolution impossible for
the eye to follow—through the bushes, and over
the water, everywhere—they darted about bike
meteors. Often meeting in mid-air, a furious
battle would ensue; their tiny crests and throat-
plumes erect and blazing, they were altogether
pictures of the most violent passions. Then one
would perch himself on a dead spray, and
leisurely smooth his ruffled feathers, to be suddenly rushed at and assaulted by some quarrelsome comrade. Feeding, fighting, and frolicking
seemed to occupy their entire time.
i 332
I daresay hard epithets will be heaped upon
me,—cruel man, hard-hearted savage, miserable
destroyer, and similar epithets,—when I confess
to shooting numbers of these burnished beauties.
Some of them are before me at this- moment as
I write; but what  miserable  things are these
7 CD
stuffed remains, as compared to the living bird !
The brilliant crests are rigid and immoveable;
the throat-feathers, that open and shut with a
flash hike coloured light, lose in the stillness of
death all those charms so beautiful in fife; the
tail, clumsily spread, or bent similar to the
abdomen of a wasp about to sting, no more resembles the same organ in the live bird, than a fan
of peacock's feathers is bike to the expanded tail
of that bird when strutting proudly in the sun.
It is useless pleading excuses; two long days
were occupied in shooting and skinning. The
two species obtained on this occasion were the
Red-backed Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus),
often  described as the  Nootka  Hummingbird,
because it was first discovered in Nootka Sound,
on the west side of Vancouver Island; the
other, one of the smallest known species, called
Calliope. This exquisite blttle bird is mainly
conspicuous for its frill of minute pinnated feathers
encircling the throat, of most delicate magenta
tint, which can be raised or depressed at will.
Prior to my finding it in this remote region, it was
described as being entirely confined to Mexico.
About a week had passed away; the bridge
was completed, during which time the female
birds had arrived; and, save a stray one now
and then, not a single individual of that numerous
host that had gathered round the Ribes was to
be seen. They cared nothing for the gun, and
would even dash at a dead companion as it lay
on the grass; so I did not drive them away, but
left them to scatter of their own free will.
My next camping-place was on the western
slope of the Rocky Mountains, near a lake, by
the margin of which grew some cottonwood trees
(Salix scouleriana), together with the alder (Alnus
oregona), and the sweet or black birch (Betula
leuta). My attention was cabled to the latter
tree by observing numbers of wasps, bees, and
hornets swarming round its trunk. The secret
was soon disclosed: a sweet gummy. sap was
exuding plentifully from splits in the bark, on
which hosts of insects, large and small, were regaling themselves. As the sap ran down over
the bark, it became very sticky, and numbers of
small winged insects, pitching on it, were trapped
in a natural ' catch-'em-alive-O.' r     &?i
Busily occupied in picking off these captives
were several very sombre-looking hummingbirds.
They poised themselves just as the others did
over the flowers, and deftly nipped, as with delicate forceps, the helpless insects. I soon bagged
one, and found I had a third species, the Black-
throated Hummingbird (Trochilus Alexandri).
Were any proof needed to establish the fact of
hummingbirds being insect-feeders, this should
be sufficient. I saw the bird, not only on this
occasion but dozeris of times afterwards, pick the
insect from off the tree, often killing it in the
act; and found the stomach, on being opened,
filled with various species of winged insects.
The habits of the three species differ widely.
The Red-backed Hummingbird loves to flit over
the open prairies, stopping at every tempting
flower, to catch some idler lurking in its nectar-
cells. Building its nest generally in a low shrub,
and close to the rippling stream, it finds pleasant
music in its ceaseless splash. Minute Calliope,
on the other hand, prefers rocky hillsides at great
altitudes, where only pine-trees, rock-plants, and
an alpine flora ' struggle for existence.' I have
frequently killed this bird above the line of perpetual snow. Its favourite resting-place is on
the extreme point of a dead pine-tree, where, if GOOD  PACKING.
undisturbed, it will sit for hours. The site chosen
for the nest is usually the branch of a young pine;
artfully concealed amidst the fronds at the very
end, it is rocked like a cradle by every passing
The   Black-throated    Hummingbird   lingers
© O
around lakes, pools, and swamps where its
favourite trapping-tree grows. I have occasionally, though very rarely, seen it hovering over
flowers; this, I apprehend, is only when the
storehouse is empty, and the sap too dry to
capture the insects. They generally build in
the birch or alder, selecting the fork of a branch
high up.
All hummingbirds, as far as I know, lay only
two eggs; the young are so tightly packed into
the nest, and fit. so exactly, that if once taken
out it is impossible to replace them. Several
springs succeeding my first discovery that these
hummingbirds were regular migrants to boreal
© CO
regions, I watched their arrival. We were t
quartered for the winter close to the western I
slopes of the Rocky Mountains. The winters here
vary in length, as well as in depth of snow and
intensity of cold, 33° below zero being no un-
frequent register. But it did not matter whether
we had a late or early spring, the humming- *!rttrrnrtirrriitp--ia*B&i
birds did not come until the Ribes opened; and
in no single instance did two whole days elapse
after the blossoms expanded, but Selasphorus and
Calliope arrived to bid them welcome. The
males usually preceded the females by four or
five days.
The    Black-throated   Hummingbird   arrives
about a week or ten days after the other two.
Marvellous is the instinct that guides and the
power that sustains these birds (not larger than
a good sized humblebee) over such an immense
tract of country ; and even more wonderful still
is their arrival, timed so accurately, that the
only flower adapted to its wants thus early in the
year opens its hoards, ready to supply the wanderer's necessities after so tedious a migration!
It seems to me vastly like design, and Foreseeing Wisdom, that a shrub indigenous and
widely distributed should be so fashioned as to
produce its blossoms long before its leaves ; and
that this very plant alone blooms ere the snow
has melted off the land, and that too at the
exact period when hummingbirds arrive. It
cannot be chance, but the work of the Almighty
Architect—who shaped them both, whose handiwork we discover at every step, and of whose
sublime conceptions we everywhere observe the SPECIFIC  CHARACTERS.
manifestations in the admirably-balanced system
of creation!
The specific characters of these three species,
whose northern range I believe was first defined
by myself, are briefly as follows:—
Selasphorus rufus (the Nootka or Red-backed
Hummingbird).—Male: tail strong and wedge-
shaped ; upper parts, lower tail-coverts, and back,
cinnamon; throat coppery red, with a well-developed ruff of the same, bordered with a white
collar ; tail-feathers cinnamon, striped with purplish-brown. Female: plain, cinnamon on the
back, replaced with green; traces only of metallic feathers on the throat. Length of male,
3*50; wing, 1*56; tail, 1*31 inches. Habitat:
West coast of North America to lat. 53° N., extending its range southward through California,
© © O 7
to the Rio Grande.
Stellata Calliope.—Male: back bright-green;
wings brownish; neck with a raff of pinnated
magenta-coloured feathers, the lower ones- much
elongated; abdomen whitish; length, about 2*75
inches. Female, much plainer than the male, with
only a trace of the magenta-coloured ruff.
Trochilus Alexandri (Black-throated Hummingbird).—Male: tails lightly forked, the chin
and upper part  of   the throat velvety black
vol. i. z 338
without metallic reflections, which are confined
to the posterior border of the black, and are
violet, changing to steel-blue. Length, 3*30
inches.    Female, without the metallic markings;
I ©      7
tail-feathers tipped with white. Bothhave the same
northern and southern range as Selasphorus rufus.
Urotrichus Gibsii, Baird (Western slope of
Cascade Mountains); Urotrichus Talpoides, Tem-
minck.—This singular little animal, that appears
to be an intermediate link between the shrew
and the mole, at present is only known as an
inhabitant of two parts of the world, widely removed from each other—the one spot being the
western slope of the Cascade Mountains, in Northwest America, the other Japan. There are, as
far as I know, but two specimens extant from the
Cascade Mountains—one in the Smithsonian Museum at Washington, the other a very fine specimen that I have recently brought home, and now
in the British Museum.* I have carefully compared .the Japanese gentleman with his brother
from the Western wilds, and can find no difference
whatever, either generically or specifically. In
size, colour, shape, and anatomical structure they
are precisely alike.
The habits of the blttle fellow from Japan I
* Vide Illustration. M
(Urotrichus Gibsii). (m
know nothing about, but with my friend from
the North-west I am much more familiar; and I
shall endeavour to introduce him to you as lifelike as I can, from what I have jotted down in
my notebook. First, then, the Urotrichus is an
insectivorous mammal, its size that of a large
shrew, about two-and-a-quarter inches in length,
exclusive of tail, which is about an inch and a
half. This tail is covered thickly with long hairs,
which at the tip end in a tuft like a fine camel's-
hair pencil, and from this hairy tail it gets the
name, Urotrichus.
Its colour is bluish-black when alive, but in
the dried specimens changes to sooty-brown.
The hair is lustrous, and, where it reflects the
light, has a hoary appearance, and, as with the
mole, it can be smoothed in either direction; this
is a wise and admirable arrangement, as it enables
the animal to back through its underground roads,
as well as to go through them head-first. Its
nose or snout is very curious, and much like that
of a pig—only that it is lengthened out into a
cylindrical tube, covered with short thick hairs,
and terminated in a naked fleshy kind of bulb or
gland; and this gland is pierced by two minute
holes, which are the nostrils. Each nostril has a
little fold of membrane hanging down over it like
z 2 340
a shutter, effectually preventing sand and minute
particles of dust from getting into the nose whilst
©o     ©
Now this curious nasal appendage is to this
miner not only an organ of smell, but also serves
the purpose of hands and eyes. His forefeet, as
I shall by-and-by show you, are wholly digging
implements, and, from their peculiar horny character, not in any way adapted to convey the sense
of touch. Eyes he has none, and but a very
rudimentary form of ear; his highly sensitive
moveable nose serves him admirably in the dark
tunnels, in which his time is passed, to feel his
way and scent out the lower forms of insect life,
on which he principally feeds. Had he eyes he
could not see, for the sunlight never peeps in to
cheer his subterranean home, and sound reaches
not down to him. The busy hum of insect fife,
and the song of feathered choristers, he hears
not, so that highly-developed hearing appendages
would have been useless and superfluous.
But his nose in every way compensates for all
these apparent deficiencies, and shows us how
to be admired is Creative Goodness in shaping
and adapting the meanest and humblest of His
creatures to its habits and modes of life. His
forefeet are, like the mole's, converted into diggers; .DIGGERS  AND  SCRAPERS.
the strong scoop-shaped nail, like a small garden-
trowel at the end of each toe, enables him to dig
with wonderful ease and celerity. The hind-feet
are shaped into a kind of scraper by the toe being
curiously bent, and the length of the hind-foot is
about two-thirds more than the fore or digging
hand. When I come to his habits, as differing
from the mole, I shall be able to point out the
use of this strange scraper-like form of hind-foot.
So far I have endeavoured to give you an outline of his general personal appearance, differing'
from the shrew in the peculiar arrangement of
his feet, and from the mole in having a long hairy
tail. His nearest relative (if at all related) is the
Condylura, or Star-nosed Mole, whose nose has a
fringe of star-shaped processes round its outer
edge, about twenty-two in number. The first
and only place in which I ever met this strange
little fellow was on the Chilukweyuk prairies.
These large grassy openings, or prairies, are
situated near the Fraser river, on the western
side of the Cascade Mountains. Small streams
wind and twist through these prairies like huge
water-snakes, widening out here and there into
large glassy pools.
The scenery is romantic and beautiful beyond
jdescription.    Towering up into the very clouds, 342
as a background, are the mighty hills of the
Cascade range, their misty summits capped with
perpetual snow—their craggy sides rent into
chasms and ravines, whose depths and solitudes
no man's foot has ever trodden, and clad up to
the very snow-line with mighty pine and cedar-
trees. The Chilukweyuk river already referred
to washes one side of the prairie. Silvery-green
and ever-trembling cotton-wood trees, ruddy
black-birch, and hawthorn, like a girdle, encircle
the prairie, and form a border, of Nature's own
weaving, to the brilliant carpet of emerald grass,
patterned with wild flowers of every hue and
tint,—all shading pleasantly away, and losing
their brilliancy in the dark green pine-trees.
In the sandy banks on the edge of the Chilukweyuk river, and the various little streams winding through the prairie-grass, lives the Urotrichus.
His mansion is a large hole, lined with bits of
© /
grass, and this hole is his sleeping-room and
drawing-room. A genuine bachelor, he never
dines at home. He has lots of roads tunnelled
away from his central mansion, radiating from it
bike the spokes of a wheel. His tunnels are not
at all like those of the mole; he never throws up
mounds or heaps of earth, in order to get rid of
the surplus material he digs out, as the mole does, HIS  MANSION.
but makes open cuttings at short intervals, about
four or five inches long; and now we shall see the
use of those curiously-formed scraper-like hind-
As he digs out the tunnel with his trowel-
hands, he throws back the earth towards his hind-
feet ; these, from their, peculiar shape, enable him
to back this dirt out of the hole, using them bike
two scrapers—only that he pushes the dirt away,
instead of pulling it towards himself. Having
backed the dirt clear of the mouth of the hole, he
throws it out over the edge of the open cutting;
after having dug in some distance—and finding, I
daresay, the labour of backing-out rather irk-
some—he digs up through the ground to the surface, makes another open cutting, and then begins
a new hole or tunnel, and disappears into the
earth again. When he has gone as far from his
dormitory as he deems wise, he again digs through,
and clears away the rubbish. This road is now
complete, so he goes back again to his central
mansion, to begin others at his leisure.
It is very difficult to watch the movements
and discover the feeding-time, or what he feeds
on, of an animal which lives almost wholly underground in the daytime; but I am pretty sure
these tunnels are made for and used as roadways, 344
or underground trails for the purpose of hunting.
He is a night-feeder, and exposed to terrible
perils from the various small carnivora that prowl
about like bandits in the dark—stoats, weasels,
martens, and skunks. So, to avoid and escape
these enemies, he comes quietly along the subterranean roadways, and cautiously emerging at
the open cutting, feels about with his wonderful
nose; and I doubt not, guided by an acute sense
of smell, pounces upon larvae, slugs, beetles, or
any nocturnal creeping-thing he can catch; and
so traversing his different hunting-trails during
the night, manages in that way to fare sumptuously, and safe from danger. Turning in, to
sleep away his breakfast, dinner, and supper, at
the first peep of the grey morning, he dozes on,
until hunger again prompts him to make another
excursion on the ' hunting-path.'
It is scarcely possible to imagine a more skilfully-contrived hunting-system, to avoid danger
and facilitate escape, than are these tunnel-trails
with open cuttings; for the sly little hunter has,
on the slightest alarm, two means of flight at his
© 7 ©
disposal—one before and another behind him;
and the fur, as I have already mentioned, laying
as evenly when smoothed from tail to head as it
does when turned in the natural direction, enables
him to turn astern, and retreat tail-first into his
hole as easily as he could go head-first.
When we contemplate this grotesque and
strangely-formed little creature, and see how
wisely and wonderfully it is fashioned and adapted
to its destined place, supplying another missing
fink in the great chain of Nature, we cannot but
feel God's power and omnipresence. Feeding in
the dark and living in the dark, eyes would have
been superfluous; sound, save from vibration in
the earth, or when hunting at the open cuttings,
would seldom reach this tiny hermit', hence the
hearing organs have no external appendage for
catching sounds, and are but in a rudimentary
form. Hands fashioned into marvellous digging-
tools, and hind-feet turned into scrapers, for
getting rid of the rubble dug out with the hands,
and nose possessing smell and touch in their
most exquisite forms, these serve him for guides
of unerring certainty and undeviating precision
through his darksome wanderings.
5 346
(Sewellel or Show'tl of the Nesqually Indians.)
Synonyms.—Aplodontia leporina, Eich., F.B. A. i. 211, plate
xviii.; Aud. Bach. N.A. Qua. iii., 1853, 99, pi. cxxiii. ;
Hoplodon leporinus, Wagler System, Amh., 1830; Anisonyx
rufa, Eafinesque, Am. Month. Mag. ii. 1817; Arctomys
rufa, Harlan, F. Am. 1825, 308 ; Sewellel, Lewis and Clark's
Travels, ii. 1815, 176.
General Dimensions.—Nose to ear, 2 in. 7 lines; nose to eyes,
1 in. 5 lines; tail to end of vertebra?, 9 lines; tail to end
of hair, 1 in. 2 lines ; ear, height, 5 bines; nose to root of
tail, 14 in. 6 lines.
I first met with this rare and curious little
rodent on the bank of the Chilukweyuk river.
My canvas house is pitched in a snug spot, overshadowed by a clump of cottonwood trees, growing close to a stream, that bike liquid crystal
ripples past in countless channels, finding its
way betwixt massive boulders of trap and greenstone, rounded and polished until they look bike
giant marbles.
Towering up behind me are the Cascade Moun- cy----'-^
tains, with snow-clad summits dim in the haze of
distance, their craggy slopes split into chasms
and ravines, so deep, dark, and lonesome, that
no man's footfall has ever disturbed their solitudes, so densely wooded up to the very snow-
bine with pine, that a bare rock has hardly a
chance to peep out, and break the sombre monotony of the dark-green foliage.
Before me, stretching away for about three
miles, is an open grassy prairie, one side of which
is bounded by the Chilukweyuk river, the other
by the Fraser. At the junction of the two
streams, at an angle of the prairie, stands an
Indian village: the rude-plank sheds and rush-
lodges; the white smoke, curling gracefully up
through the still atmosphere from many lodge-
fires; the dusky forms of the savages, as they
loll or stroll in the fitful night, give life and
character to a scene indescribably lovely.
The Indian summer is drawing to a close; the
maple, the cottonwood, and the hawthorn, fringing the winding waterways, bike silver cords intersecting the prairie, have assumed their autumn
tints, arid, clad in browns and yellows, stand out
in brilliant contrast to the green of the pine-
forest. The prairie looks bright and lovely; the
grass,   as   yet  untouched  by the  frost-fairy's 348
fingers, waves lazily; wild flowers, of varied tints,
peep out from their hiding-places, enjoying to
the last the lingering summer.
I had been for some time sitting on a log,
admiring the sublime beauty of the scene, spread
out before me like a gorgeous picture; the sun
was fast receding behind the hilltops, the
lengthening shadows were fading and growing
dimly indistinct, the birds had settled down to
sleep, and the busy hum of insect fife was
hushed. A deathlike quiet steals over everything in the wilderness as night comes on—
a stillness that is painful from its intensity.
The sound of your own breathing, the crack of
a branch, a stone suddenly rattling down the
hillside, the howl of the coyote, or the whoop
of the night-owl, seem all intensified to an un-
natural loudness. I know of nothing more appalling to the lonely wanderer camping by himself
than this ' iungle silence,' that reigns through the
weary hours of night.
This silence was suddenly broken, as was my
reverie, by a sharp ringing whistle; it was so
piercing and clear, that I could not believe it
was produced by an animal. Hardly had it died
away, when another whistler took it up, then a
third, and so on, until at least a dozen had joined A PUZZLER.
in the chorus. I stole carefully in the direction
from which the sound came, but as I neared the
spot the whistle ceased, and it was now far too
dark to descry any object on the ground. So, in
doubt, and sorely puzzled to account for such an
unusual sound, and with a firm determination to
unravel the mystery in the morning, I returned
to my camp. Could it be Indians? No, impossible ; there were far too many whistlers, and
the tone of each whistle was precisely alike. I
was equally sure it was not the cry of the^yi-^f.^ 1
rock-whistler (Actomys); that sound I knew
too well.    What could it be?
As the grey fight of morning came peering
into my tent, I started off to investigate the
secret of the mysterious whistler; but all I could
discover, after a long and diligent search, was,
that there were numerous runs and burrows excavated in the sandy banks of the river, but by
what sort of animal I could not for the fife of me
guess. Setting a steel-trap at the entrance to
one of the holes, I strolled down to the Indian
village, thinking I should possibly be able to find
out from the redskins what it was that made such
shrill sounds. Partly by signs, and by using as
much of their language as I knew, I endeavoured
to make the old chief comprehend my queries. 350
After attentively watching my absurd attempts
to produce a ringing whistle by placing my
fingers in my mouth, and blowing through them
until •my face was bike an apoplectic coachman's, a
smile of intelligence lit up his swarthy visage:
then I violently dug imaginary holes, and explained that the sounds came about twilight; he
nodded his head, dived into the tent, and disappeared in the smoke, to shortly emerge again
with a rug or robe, made from the skins of an
animal that was quite new to me.
It was beautifully soft, glossy, and brown.
The skins were about the size of a large rat's, and
about twenty in number. Here, then, was the
dawn of a discovery. He called the animal Ou-
ka-la, and made me understand that it hived on
roots and vegetable matter, and burrowed holes-
in the ground.
As the daylight faded out, I again took my
seat; and, just as before, when everything was
silent, the woods echoed with the Ou-ka-la's cry.
I longed for morning, and hardly waited for
fight, but hastened off to my trap ; and, joy of
joys, I had one sure enough, caught by the neck.
Poor Ou-ka-la ! your friends had heard, and you
had given, your ' last whistle.' He was dead and
cold—trapped, perhaps, whilst I listened won- *s*mm
deringly, keeping my lonely vigil.    A very brief
examination revealed the fact that I had caught
a magnificent specimen of the Aplodontia leporina,
of which I had only read.
Captains Lewis and Clark obtained some vague
information about this animal, which is given in
their journal of travel across the Rocky Mountains, in 1804. All they say of its habits is,
' that it climbs trees, and digs like a squirrel.'
They obtained no specimen of the animal, but
saw, probably, robes made of the skins. It
was subsequently described by Rafinesque, and
by him named Anysonyx rufa, and by Harlan
Arctomys rufa. In 1829 Sir John Richardson
obtained a specimen, and, after a careful anatomical examination, this eminent naturalist determined it to be a new genus, and renamed it,
generically and specifically. The generic name
(Aplodontia) is founded on its having rootless
molars, or grinding teeth—aploos, simple; odons,
a tooth. It belongs to the sub-family Castorino3,
dental formula 2 00 ^ 22.
Sp. ch.—Size, that of a musk-rat; tail very
short, barely visible; colour, glossy blackish-
brown. Male, length about 14 inches; female
resembling the male, but smaller. The fur is
dense and woolly, with long bristly hairs, thickly
interspersed; the short fur is bluish-gray at the
base, the ends of the hairs being tipped with reddish-brown; the bristles are black, arid when
smooth give a lustrous appearance to the fur.
The eyes are very small, and placed about midway between the nose and the ear. The whiskers, stiff and bristly, are much longer than the
head, and dark grey. The ears are covered on
both sides with fine soft hair, rounded and very
short, and not unlike the human ear.
Skull.—The skull is much like that of the
squirrel's, with the marked exception of having
rootless molars, and the absence of post-orbital
processes; the occipital crest is well-developed,
the muzzle large, and nearly round. The bony
orbits are largely, developed; the auditory bullaa
are small, but open at once into wide auditive
tubes ; the first molar is unusually small, oval,
and situated against the antero-internal angle of
o ©
the second. All the molars are rootless: the
lower grinders are much like the upper, but
somewhat longer and narrower. The molars in
both jaws are situated much farther back than is
usual, the centre of the skull being about opposite to the meeting of the second and third. The
lower jaw is very singularly shaped, the inner
edges  of the molars  on opposite sides being CHISELS THAT DO  NOT  REQUIRE   GRINDING.   353
parallel; the descending ramus is bent, so as to
be exactly horizontal behind, the postero-inferior
edge being a straight line, nearly perpendicular
to the vertical plane of the skull's axis. The
conformation of the incisor-teeth is admirably
adapted to the purposes they have to fulfil; no
carpenter's gouging chisels are more effective
tools than are these exquisitely-constructed teeth.
It is essential that they should always have a
sharp-cutting edge, in order to nip through the
tough vegetable fibre on which the animal subsists ; at the same time, strength and durability
are indispensable. The Aplodontia has no whetstone or razor-grinder, to sharpen his tools when,
they grow blunt; but an Allwise Providence has
so fashioned these wondrous chisels in all rodents,
that the more they are used the sharper they keep;
the contrivance is simple as it is beautiful. The
substance of the tooth itself is composed of tough
ivory, but plated on the outer surface with enamel as hard as steel. The ivory, being the!
softer material, of course wears away faster than
the enamel; hence the latter, plating the front of
the tooth, is always left with a sharp-cutting
The position this genus should occupy, in a
systematic arrangement of the rodents, has always
been a stumbling-block and a matter of doubt, in
great measure attributable to the fact that but a
single species of the genus is known, and very
few specimens have hitherto been obtained. A
fine male specimen has recently been set up in
the British Museum collection, that I caught near
my camp on the prairie.   .
In many particulars the Aplodontia very nearly
resembles the Spermophiles, particularly the
prairie-dog ( Cynomys Ludovicciana), but differs,
as in the true squirrels, in the rootless molars and
absence of post-orbital processes. In this respect
it is allied to the beaver. It is quite impossible
to assign it a well-defined and settled position,
until a greater number of specimens are procured, from which more minute and careful examination of the bony and internal anatomy can
be made. At present, however, it would appear
to connect the beavers with the squirrels, through
the Spermophiles.
The name Lewis and Clark gave this animal,
Sewellel, is evidently a corruption of an Indian
word. The Chinook Indians, once a powerful
tribe, five near the mouth of the Columbia; and
from them, in all probability, Lewis and Clark
obtained the name, and first heard of the animal.
But the Chinook name for the Aplodontia is Og- A MINER.
ool-lal, Sbu-wal-lal being the name of the robs
made from the skins; and this is unquestionably
the word corrupted into Sewellel, and misused as
the name of the animal.     In Puget's Sound the
Nesqually Indians call it Show'tl; the Yakama
Indians, Squal-lah; and the Sumass Indians,
A single glance at the conformation of the feet
would at once convince the most careless observer that climbingvtrees was not a habit of the
Aplodontia. The feet and claws are digging implements, of the most finished and efficient kind:
the long scoop-shaped nails, resembling garden
trowels; wide strong foot, almost hand-like in its
form; the strong muscular arms, supported by
powerful clavicles, proclaim him a miner; his mission is to burrow, and most ably he fulfils his
destiny. His haunt is usually by the side of a
stream, where the banks are sandy, and the
underbrush grows thickly; his favourite food
being fine fibrous roots, and the rind of such as
are too hard for his teeth. He spends his time in
burrowing, not so much for shelter and concealment, as to supply himself with roots. He digs
with great ease and rapidity, making a hole -large
enough for a man's arm to be inserted.
In making the tunnels, he seldom burrows very
© * J iBW
far without coming to the surface, and beginning
a new one. Like a skilful workman, he knows
how to economise labour. Having to back the
earth out of the mouth of the hole he is digging.
©©       ©'
the farther he gets in the harder grows the toil;
and so he digs up through, and starts afresh,
They seldom come out in the daytime, and I have
but rarely heard them whistle until everything
was still, and the twilight merged into night.
The female has from four to six young at a
j       ©
birth, and she has about two litters in a year.
The nest for the young is much like that of the
rabbit, made of grass and leaves, and placed at
the end of a deep burrow. In the winter they
only partially hybernate, frequently digging
through the snow to eat the bark and lichen from
the trees. Their gait when on the ground is
very awkward; their broad short feet are not
fitted for progression, and they shamble rather
than run, and can be easily overtaken. Where a
colony of them have resided for any time, the
ground becomes literally riddled with holes, and
the trees and shrubs die for want of roots. I
imagine, from having found abandoned villages,
that they wisely emigrate when their resources
are exhausted. The Indians esteem their flesh a
great luxury, and trap them in a kind of figure-of- WHAT  USE  IS  THE  OU-KA-LA?
four trap, set at the mouth of the burrow. I
daresay they are as good as a rabbit; still, they
have too ratlike an appearance to possess any gastronomic attractions for me. De gustibus non
est disputandum.
The Aplodontia has a terrible and untiring
enemy in the badger (Taxidea Americana). He
is always on the hunt for the poor little miner,
digs him out from his hiding-place, and devours
him with as much gusto as the Indian. Its geographical range is not very extended, being, as
far as I know, confined to a small section of Northwestern America. I have seen it on the eastern
and western slopes of the Cascades, but not on
the Rocky Mountains, although it very probably
exists there. It is also found at Puget's Sound,
Fort Steilacum, and on the banks of the Sumass
and Chilukweyuk rivers, west of the Cascades; on
the Nachess Pass, at Astoria and the Dalles, on
the Columbia, east of the Cascades.
Feeding entirely on vegetable matter (I never
discovered a trace of insect or larvae remains in
the stomach), passing its life principally in dark
burrows, and limited, as far as we know at present, to a very narrow section of a barren
country, it is hard to imagine what purpose it
serves in the great chain of Nature, save it be that —
of supplying food to the badger, and both food and
clothing to the savage; and yet we know that
it was fashioned for some specific purpose, if we
could but read and rightly interpret the pages of
Nature's wondrous book. If we ask ourselves,
Why was this or that made? how seldom can we
answer the question! Why did He, who made the
.world, the sun, and the stars, deck the butterfly's
wing with tiny scales, that by a simple change in
arrangement produce patterns beside which the
most finished painting is a bungblng daub ? Why
exist those microscopic wonders, (diatoms and infusoria,) formed with shells of purest flint, and
of the quaintest devices? Why were these atomies, that tenant every roadside pool, which
dance in the sunbeam, and float on the wings
of the breeze ? Why all the prodigal variety of
strange forms crowding the sea, forms more
wonderful than the poet's wildest dreams ever
pictured?    Who can tell?
PRISTBD   BI8P0ITI8W00D!   A!tD   00.


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