It may be imagined what was the surprise of Mr. Hunt when he saw Astoria under the British flag, and passed into stranger hands. But the misfortune was beyond remedy, and he was obliged to content himself with taking on board all the Americans who were at the establishment, and who had not entered the service of the Company of the Northwest. Messrs. Halsey, Seton, and Farnham were among those who embarked. I shall have occasion to inform the reader of the part each of them played, and how they reached their homes.
When I heard that Mr. Hunt was in the river, and knowing that the overland expedition was to set out early in April, I raised camp at Oak point, and reached the fort on the 2d of that month. But the brig Pedlar had that very day got outside the river, after several fruitless attempts, in one of which she narrowly missed being lost on the bar.
I would gladly have gone in her, had I but arrived a day sooner. I found, however, all things prepared for the departure of the canoes, which was to take place on the 4th. I got ready the few articles I possessed, and in spite of the very advantageous offers of the gentlemen of the N.W. Company, and their reiterated persuasions, aided by the crafty M’Dougal, to induce me to remain, at least one year more, I persisted in my resolution to leave the country. The journey I was about to undertake was a long one: it would be accompanied with great fatigues and many privations, and even by some dangers; but I was used to privations and fatigues; I had braved dangers of more than one sort; and even had it been otherwise, the ardent desire of revisiting my country, my relatives, and my friends, the hope of finding myself, in a few months, in their midst, would have made me overlook every other consideration.
I am about, then, to quit the banks of the river Columbia, and conduct the reader through the mountain passes, over the plains, the forests, and the lakes of our continent: but I ought first to give him at least an idea of the manners and customs of the inhabitants, as well as of the principal productions of the country that I now quit, after a sojourn of three years. This is what I shall try to do in the following chapters.[U]
[Footnote U: Some of my readers would, no doubt, desire some scientific details on the botany and natural history of this country. That is, in fact, what they ought to expect from a man who had travelled for his pleasure, or to make discoveries: but the object of my travels was not of this description; my occupations had no relation with science; and, as I have said in my preface, I was not, and am not now, either a naturalist or a botanist.]
Situation of the Columbia River.—Qualities of its Soil.—Climate, &c.—Vegetable and Animal Productions of the Country.
The mouth of the Columbia river is situated in 46 deg. 19’ north latitude, and 125 deg. or 126 deg. of longitude west of the meridian of Greenwich. The highest tides are very little over nine or ten feet, at its entrance, and are felt up stream for a distance of twenty-five or thirty leagues.