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38
v.2

THE

ARCH.
UBRARY

HOMES OF THE NEW WORLD.

LETTER XXVI.

On the Mississippi, October 15th. Toward sunset on the most lovely and glorious evening, we came out of the narrow little winding Five River, and entered the grand Mississippi, which flowed broad and clear as a mirror between hills which extended into the distance, and now looked blue beneath the mild, clear blue heavens, in which the new moon and the evening star ascended, becoming brighter as the sun sank lower behind the hills. The pure misty veil of the Indian summer was thrown over the landscape; one might have believed that it was the earth's smoke of sacrifice which arose in the evening toward the gentle heavens. Not a breath of air moved, every thing was silent and still in that grand spectacle; it was indescribably beautiful. Just then a shot was fired; a smoke issued from one of the small green islands, and flocks of ducks and wild geese flew up round about, escaping from the concealed sportsman, who I hope this evening returned without game. All was again silent and still, and the Menomonie advanced with a quiet, steady course up the glorious river.

I stood on the upper deck with the captain, Mr. Smith, and the representative from Minnesota, Mr. Sibley, who, with his wife and child, were returning home from Washington. Was this, then, indeed, the Mississippi, that wild giant

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v.2

THE

ARCH.
UBRARY

HOMES OF THE NEW WORLD.

LETTER XXVI.

On the Mississippi, October 15th. TOWARD sunset on the most lovely and glorious evening, we came out of the narrow little winding Five River, and entered the grand Mississippi, which flowed broad and clear as a mirror between hills which extended into the distance, and now looked blue beneath the mild, clear blue heavens, in which the new moon and the evening star ascended, becoming brighter as the sun sank lower behind the hills. The pure misty veil of the Indian summer was thrown over the landscape; one might have believed that it was the earth's smoke of sacrifice which arose in the evening toward the gentle heavens. Not a breath of air moved, every thing was silent and still in that grand spectacle; it was indescribably beautiful. Just then a shot was fired; a smoke issued from one of the small green islands, and flocks of ducks and wild geese flew up round about, escaping from the concealed sportsman, who I hope this evening returned without game. All was again silent and still, and the Menomonie advanced with a quiet, steady course up the glorious river.

I stood on the upper deck with the captain, Mr. Smith, and the representative from Minnesota, Mr. Sibley, who, with his wife and child, were returning home from Washington. Was this, then, indeed, the Mississippi, that wild giant

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of nature, which I had imagined would be so powerful, so divine, so terrible? Here its waters were clear, of a fresh, light-green color, and within their beautiful frame of distant violet-blue mountains, they lay like a heavenly mirror, bearing on their bosom verdant, vine-covered islands, like islands of the blessed. The Mississippi was here in its youth, in its state of innocence as yet. It has not as yet advanced very far from its fountains; no crowd of steamboats muddy its waters. The Menomonie and one other, a still smaller boat, are the only ones which ascend the river above Galena; no cities cast into it their pollution; pure rivers only flow into its waters, and aborigines and primeval forests still surround it. Afterward, far below and toward the world's sea, where the Mississippi comes into the life of the states, and becomes a statesman, he has his twelve hundred steamers, and I know not how many thousand sailing-boats, gives himself up to cities and the population of cities, and is married to the Missouri : then it is quite different; then is it all over with the beauty and innocence of the Mississippi.

But now, now it was beautiful, and the whole of that evening on the Mississippi was to me like an enchantment.

The Mississippi, discovered by Europeans, has two epochs, and in each a romance: the one as different to the other as day and night, as the sun-bright idyl to the gloomy tragedy, as the Mississippi here in its youth, and the Mississippi down at St. Louis, as Mississippi-Missouri. The first belongs to the northern district, the second to the southern; the former has its hero, the mild pastor, Father Marquette; the latter the Spanish soldier, Ferdinand de Soto.

France and England, equally jealous competitors for territorial acquisitions, were the first possessors of the land of North America. The French Jesuits were the first who penetrated into the wildernesses of Canada and

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