This conciliatory speech softened their hearts for a time, and they all, with seeming cordiality, came forward and professed friendship. The great difficulty, in our intercourse with the Indians, has been that the wilderness has been filled with miserable vagabonds, who were ever perpetrating innumerable outrages, robbing them, and treating them in all respects, in the most shameless manner. Even civilized men, in war, will often retaliate, by punishing the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. It is not strange that untutored Indians, having received atrocious wrongs from one band of white men, should wreak their vengeance on the next band whom they chanced to encounter.
Mr. Carson, in addition to his farm at Razado, had what may be called his city residence in the straggling old town of Taos. It is said that a traveller upon entering these crooked streets, lined with one story buildings of sun-baked bricks, is reminded of a number of brick-kilns, previous to being burnt, all huddled together without any regard to order. As in all Spanish towns, there is a large public square in the centre.
Mr. Carson’s house faced this square on the west side. Though but one story in height, it spread over a large extent of ground. It was one of the largest and most commodious houses in the place. Every body who went to Taos, Indians as well as white men, felt bound to call upon “Father Kit,” as he was familiarly called. To the Indian, particularly, he was ever a true friend and benefactor. He knew, as no other man knew, how terrible his wrongs,—not from the government,—but from the vagabond desperadoes of the wilderness. Never was his patience exhausted by their long visits, and never was he weary of listening to their harangues. It has ever been with him a constant effort to warn them against the use of intoxicating drink—that “fire water” which has so long been consuming the Indian, body and soul.
Whenever the government had any important or delicate mission to perform among the Indians, the services of Mr. Carson were sure to be called into requisition. Thus he entered upon the evening of his days, honored and beloved by all who knew him. These peaceful hours were probably the happiest of his life. We have no detailed account of his last sickness and death. He breathed his last at Fort Lyon, in Colorado, on the twenty-third of May, 1868, in the sixtieth year of his age. The immediate cause of his death, was an aneurism of an artery in the neck. Thus passed away one of the most illustrious of the “Pioneers and Patriots” of America. His name deserves to be held in perpetual remembrance.
The Last Hours of Kit Carson.
The following letter, received
since the publication of the first
edition, gives an interesting account of the last hours of Mr.
Carson from the physician who was with him when he died.