Pathfinders of the West eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 264 pages of information about Pathfinders of the West.

[2] I am sorry to say that in pioneer border warfares I have heard of white men acting in a precisely similar beastly manner after some brutal conflict.  To be frank, I know of one case in the early days of Minnesota fur trade, where the irate fur trader killed and devoured his weak companion, not from famine, but sheer frenzy of brutalized passion.  Such naked light does wilderness life shed over our drawing-room philosophies of the triumphantly strong being the highest type of manhood.

[3] Again the wilderness plunges us back to the primordial:  if man be but the supreme beast of prey, whence this consciousness of blood guilt in these unschooled children of the wilds?

PART IV

1780-1793

FIRST ACROSS THE ROCKIES—­HOW MACKENZIE
  CROSSED THE NORTHERN ROCKIES AND LEWIS
  AND CLARK WERE FIRST TO CROSS FROM
  MISSOURI TO COLUMBIA

CHAPTER X

1780-1793

FIRST ACROSS THE ROCKIES

How Mackenzie found the Great River named after him and then pushed across the Mountains to the Pacific, forever settling the question of a Northwest Passage

There is an old saying that if a man has the right mettle in him, you may stick him a thousand leagues in the wilderness on a barren rock and he will plant pennies and grow dollar bills.  In other words, no matter where or how, success will succeed.  No class illustrates this better than a type that has almost passed away—­the old fur traders who were lords of the wilderness.  Cut off from all comfort, from all encouragement, from all restraint, what set of men ever had fewer incentives to go up, more temptations to go down?  Yet from the fur traders sprang the pioneer heroes of America.  When young Donald Smith came out—­a raw lad—­to America, he was packed off to eighteen years’ exile on the desert coast of Labrador.  Donald Smith came out of the wilderness to become the Lord Strathcona of to-day.  Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s life presents even more dramatic contrasts.  A clerk in a counting-house at Montreal one year, the next finds him at Detroit setting out for the backwoods of Michigan to barter with Indians for furs.  Then he is off with a fleet of canoes forty strong for the Upper Country of forest and wilderness beyond the Great Lakes, where he fights such a desperate battle with rivals that one of his companions is murdered, a second lamed, a third wounded.  In all this Alexander Mackenzie was successful while still in the prime of his manhood,—­not more than thirty years of age; and the reward of his success was to be exiled to the sub-arctics of the Athabasca, six weeks’ travel from another fur post,—­not a likely field to play the hero.  Yet Mackenzie emerged from the polar wilderness bearing a name that ranks with Columbus and Carrier and La Salle.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Pathfinders of the West from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook