by George Catlin

(First published in London in 1844)

LETTER--No. 35.


My little bark has been soaked in the water agin, and Ba'tiste and Bogard have paddled, and I have steered and dodged our little craft amongst the snags and sawyers, until at last we landed the humble little thing amongst the huge steamers and floating palaces at the wharf of this bustling

and growing city.

And first of all, I must relate the fate of my little boat, which had borne us safe over two thousand miles of the Missouri's turbid and boiling current, with no fault, excepting two or three instances, when the waves became too saucy, she, like the best of boats of her size, went to the bottom, and left us soused, to paddle our way to the shore, and drag out our things and dry them in the sun.

When we landed at the wharf, my luggage was all taken out, and removed to my hotel; and when I returned a few hours afterwards, to look for my little boat, to which I had contracted a peculiar attachment (although I had left it in special charge of a person at work on the wharf) ; some mystery or medicine operation had relieved me from any further anxiety or trouble about it -- it had gone and never returned, although it had safely passed the countries of mysteries, and had often laid weeks and months at the villages of red men, with no laws to guard it; and where it had also often been taken out of the water by mystery-men, and carried up the bank, and turned against my wigwam; and by them again safely carried to the river's edge. and put afloat upon the water, when I was ready to take a seat in it.

St. Louis, which is 1400 miles west of New York, is a flourishing town, of 15,000 inhabitants, and destined to be the great emporium of the West-the greatest inland town in America. Its location is on the Western bank of the Mississippi river, twenty miles below the mouth of the Missouri, and 1400 above the entrance of the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico.

This is the great depot of all the Fur Trading Companies to the Upper Missouri and Rocky Mountains, and their starting-place; and also for the Santa Fe, and other Trading Companies, who reach the Mexican borders overland, to trade for silver bullion, from the extensive mines of that rich country.

I have also made it my starting-point, and place of deposit, to which I send from different quarters, my packages of paintings and Indian articles, minerals, fossils, &c., as I collect them in various regions, here to be stored till my return; and where on my last return, if I ever make it, I shall hustle them altogether, and remove them to the East.

To this place I had transmitted by steamer and other conveyance, about twenty boxes and packages at different times, as my note-book shewed; and I have, on looking them up and enumerating them, been lucky enough to recover and recognize about fifteen of the twenty, which is a pretty fair proportion for this wild and desperate country, and the very conscientious hands they often are doomed to Bass through.

Ba'tiste and Bogard (poor fellows) I found, after remaining here a few days, had been about as unceremoniously snatched off, as my little canoe; and Bogard, in particular, as he had made show of a few hundred dollars, which he had saved of his hard earnings in the Rocky Mountains.

He came down with a liberal heart, which he had learned in an Indian life of ten years, with a strong taste, which he had acquired, for whiskey, in a country where it, was sold for twenty dollars per gallon; and with an independent feeling, which illy harmonized with rules and regulations of a country of laws; and the consequence soon was, that by the "Hawk and Buzzard system", and Rocky Mountain liberality, and Rocky Mountain prodigality, the poor fellow was soon "jugged up;" where he could deliberately dream of beavers, and the free and cooling breezes of the mountain air, without the pleasure of setting his trap for the one, or even indulging the hope of ever again having the pleasure of breathing the other.

I had imbibed rather less of these delightful passions in the Indian country, and consequently indulged less in them when I came back; and of course, was rather more fortunate than poor Bogard, whose feelings I soothed as far as it laid in my power, and prepared to "lay my course" to the South, with colours and canvass in readiness for another campaign.

In my sojourn in St. Louis, amongst many other kind and congenial friends whom I met, I have had daily interviews with the venerable Governor Clark, whose whitened locks are still shaken in roars of laughter, and good jests among the numerous citizens, who all love him, and continually rally around him in his hospitable mansion.

Governor Clark, with Captain Lewis, were the first explorers across the Rocky Mountains, and down the Colombia to the Pacific Ocean thirty-two years ago; whose tour has been published in a very interesting work, which has long been before the world. My works and my design have been warmly approved and applauded by this excellent patriarch of the Western World; and kindly recommended by him in such ways as have been of great service to me. Governor Clark is now Superintendent of Indian Affairs for all the Western and North Western regions; and surely, their interests could never have been intrusted to better or abler hands.

So long have I been recruiting, and enjoying the society of friends in this town, that the navigation of the river has suddenly closed, being entirely frozen over; and the earth's surface covered with eighteen inches of drifting snow, which has driven me to the only means, and I start in a day or two, with a tough little pony and a packhorse, to trudge through the snow drifts from this to New Madrid, and perhaps further; a distance of three or four hundred miles to the South иии where I must venture to meet a warmer climate -- the river open, and steamers running, to waft me to the Gulf of Mexico. Of the fate or success that waits me, or of the incidents of that travel, as they have not transpired, I can as yet say nothing; and I close my book for further time and future entries.

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