صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

stitutional temperament of the author, which appears to be of a gay and lively turn, and to the fact, that his life, thus far, has been one of action, passed amid checkered scenes, rather than one of meditation. Our author, from his childhood up, has been fond of adventures, and having been, as far as our own country is concerned, a great traveller, has had ample opportunity not only to gratify a curiosity which would embrace every thing striking and interesting within its range, but also to cultivate a calm and equable temper, from observing the motives that influence men of different character, when placed under various and widely dissimilar circumstances. His philosophy, which is of a cheerful description, has been gathered more from the school of life than from scholastic halls; and his literature, like that of Franklin, except the portion of it derived from liberal Nature, has been gleaned from the printing office, instead of the college, He has studied men more than books, while the tact and ability with which he conducts one of the most agreeable, popular and widely extended journals of our country, afford ample evidence that he has well improved his opportunities.

Much has been said respecting the motives that influenced Mr. Kendall in undertaking the tour whose progress and history he narrates, in so lively a manner, in the pages of this work; and it has been asserted by some very sensitive patriots, who have an extraordinary regard for the honor of their native land, that the considerations which led him, in company with a party of Texans, into Mexico, were not merely of an equivocal character, but even glaringly inconsistent with his duties and allegiance as an American citizen. They urge, that having acted in violation of the friendly relations subsisting between the United States and Mexico, and having, upon his capture, been severely punished by the government of the latter country for an unlawful proceeding, he was not to be regarded as an object of pity, and entitled to our sympathy, but as a transgressor, who suffered nothing more at the hands of Mexico than he richly deserved. We confess we see no ground for insinuations so discreditable to the patriotism and sense of international justice of our estimable fellow citizen. If he have not been guilty of a palpable violation of truth,--and we have no reason, from what we know of his character, to suspect his veracity on this or any other occasion,—we are bound to believe him when he asserts, that his only motives for undertaking this

tour were, the restoration of his health and the gratification of his curiosity. If the expedition with which he was connected on his visit to Mexico, had any covert and unlawful objects to accomplish, he was wholly ignorant of them. He went simply in the character of an American traveller, with his passport in his hands, with a view to amuse himself and acquire information that would be afterwards interesting to his countrymen. That he was the victim, in the first instance, of the most shameless treachery, and subjected, subsequently, to the most brutal treatment, wholly inconsistent with the usages of civilized nations, cannot be doubted by any who have read his narrative.

We proceed to accompany him through various scenes,— to unfold the objects and trace the course of the expedition-an expedition fraught with unusual adventures, and numerous pleasing as well as painful incidents.

Upon his arrival in Texas, Mr. Kendall found a party, consisting of soldiers, merchants, and others whose leisure led them to engage in any enterprize which promised excitement, upon the eve of departure for Santa Fe, in New Mexico. This expedition appears to have been projected with objects partly commercial and partly political

. It was to proceed over wilds before unexplored by civilized man, and penetrate, by a route nearly north-west, to Santa Fe. To divert the thriving and prosperous trade, heretofore carried on by circuitous routes with the United States, to Texas, and to gather under the standard of "The Lone Star” the people resident upon the Rio Grande, claimed as the western boundary line of the Republic, were among the ostensible purposes which gave rise to this expedition.

Anterior to the departure of the company, curiosity led our author to explore the country which he had already reached,—a country not less interesting than that to which he was going. Leaving Austin, the capital, he, in company with some half-dozen mounted horsemen, proceeded over the prairies to San Antonio, a distance of eighty miles. The route lay through a country entirely without settlements, and, being tenanted by hostile Indians, the trip was not without its dangers. Invigorated, however, by the fresh air of the open prairie,-blessed with appetites unknown to the epicure of cities,—-enjoying the occasional excitements of the chase,-surrounded by scenes novel and beautiful in a high degree, and their spirits buoyant with anticipations of

coming pleasure,—the way was short that brought them to San Antonio.

The missions established by the Spaniards for the purpose of Christianizing the natives, are frequently met with in Texas, as they also are in various parts of Central America and California. Among others, they visited the Alamo, rendered memorable by the death of the eccentric and heroic Crockett. The very spot was pointed out where, bravely fighting, this Texan patriot fell. These missions, which testify the religious zeal of the conquerors of Central America, throw over the dark page of cruelty, extortion and inhumanity, exercised towards the unfortunate aborigines, a gleam of philanthropy, never to be entirely lost sight of, when we would reproach them with the deep and burning wrongs which they inflicted upon an unfortunate race. It is singular that it should have been esteemed lawful to kill and enslave the living,--to trample upon the dearest rights of humanity, -and that such tender care should have been taken of interests connected with another life. Christian charities were extended towards the people with a view to a future world, but their temporal welfare was most strangely forgotten or disregarded. The Puritans of New England, also, we may remark in this connection, neglected the precepts of their holy religion in their treatment of an unfortunate race---nay, more culpable, they did not like the Spaniards, seek to open for them the gates of heaven.

San Antonio is a beautiful and picturesque town. A river of the same name passes through it, supplying the inhabitants with an abundance of the crystal element, nearly of the same temperature at all seasons. Men and women alike bathe in its limpid waters, and good swimmers abound among both sexes. Traits of social life are presented, in the progress of the narrative, of a very primitive character, in both the Republics of Mexico and Texas,-a charming náiveté in the women which cannot fail to captivate, and an absence of those conventional rules which circumscribe the manners of more enlightened nations, and throw around the softer sex an unapproachable barrier of etiquette. San Antonio contained formerly a population of some ten thousand persons, but the border warfare has thinned the numbers of its inhabitants. It is a place of considerable trade, and will become eventually an important town.

The Texans left Austin on the 17th of June, 1841. The pleasures of a forest and prairie life, occupied the minds of the gallant and well-appointed cavalcade. Their feelings were as buoyant as the fresh and invigorating breeze which swept by them. Hope and eager expectation were impressed on the countenances of each. Could the veil which hid the future have been removed,—could a moment's thought of the destiny that awaited them, have been presented to their minds, -how different would have been their feelings ! how would they have shrunk back appalled. Separated for a time from the enjoyments of a city life, they were to engage in wild and stirring adventures,-to live, in part, upon the trophies of the chase, -to sleep in the open air, beneath heaven's starry canopy, a blanket the sole protection against the damp shades of night and the fury of the elements. These were attractions to the mind of young enterprize. They thought not of cold, of hunger, thirst, the privations of the wilderness, nor of the unrelenting and fearful savages, whose fastnesses they were about to penetrate. They thought not of captivity, and the ignominious and cruel death that was prepared for many of them. The wilderness once passed, they considered the perils of the route as at an end. General Lamar, the President of Texas, accompanied the party a short distance upon their way. He is described as a pure republican, both in manners and character.

The wanderer upon the prairie subsists chiefly upon animal food. A fire is kindled,—the end of a ramrod serves as a gridiron,-exercise supplies the condiments,-a cup of coffee, perhaps, seasons the viands,-a good story follows,and then, extended in their ample bed-room, upon the green sward, sweet refreshing sleep creeps over the wearied Timbs until, at the early dawn, the reveillé calls the slumberer from his primitive couch, to commence again the journey of a day attended with a like conclusion.

Much order was observed in the march. A scouting party kept continually in advance, to provide for the safety of the expedition,—to explore the best routes and seek out springs of water. The guides were supposed to be efficient. They proceeded with perfect confidence, though, being encumbered with wagons, their progress was necessarily slow. Sometimes troops of the mustang, or wild horse, would approach and regard them with attention, as intruders upon their solitude. It is hardly possible to conceive a more 30

VOL, VI.-NO. 11.

beautiful sight than is represented in the following passage:

“Ever and anon, they would halt for a moment, throw up their heads as if to scan us more closely, and then, as though not satisfied with the scrutiny, would again approach at the same rapid pace. It may be that they could not see us while reclining under the shade trees, or mistook our animals for some of their own wild companions; be this as it may, they approached within a few hundred yards, wheeling and dashing about with all the joyousness of unrestrained freedom, and occasionally stopping to examine our encampment more closely. Their leader was a bright bay, with a long and glossy black tail and mane. With the most dashing and buoyant action, he would trot around our camp, and throw aloft his beautifully formed head, as if, after the manner of some ringleted school girl, to toss the truant hair from his eyes. Then he would lash his silken tail, shake his flowing mane in pride, and eye us with looks that plainly told his confidence in his powers of flight, should danger or treachery be lurking in our vicinity. After gambolling about us for some time, his bright eyes apparently gleaming with satisfaction, as if conscious that we were watching and admiring his showy points, he suddenly wheeled and placed himself at a more prudent distance. Then he turned again to take another look, curved his beautiful neck, once more tossed his head, half timidly, half in sport, pawed the ground playfully, and again dashed off. Several times he turned to take still another look at our encampment, and even in the far distance we could distinguish his proud and expanded nostrils, his bright, flashing eyes, and the elastic movements of his symmetrical limbs, as he playfully pranced and curvetted about. I watched him until he was but a speck upon the prairie, and then turned from gazing with regret that he was not mine.” Vol. I., pp. 146–7.

It appears that horses are very cheap, both in Texas and Mexico; and, in the latter country, land-holders are spoken of as the owners of many thousands of them. The Indians are excellent horsemen, and, when met with on the prairies, are generally mounted. The flesh of these wild horses is described as being quite palatable.

We have the following lively description of the stampede :

“Nothing can exceed the grandeur of the scene, when a large carallada, or drove of horses, takes a “scare. Old weather-beaten, time-worn, and broken-down steeds,-horses that have nearly given out from hard work and old age,-will at once be transformed into wild and prancing colts. When first seized with that indescribable terror which induces them to fly, they seem to be suddenly endowed with all the attributes of their original wild nature. With heads erect, tails and manes streaming in air, eyes lit up and darting beams of fright, (?) old and jaded hacks will be seen prancing and careering about, with all the buoyancy of action which characterizes the antics of young colls; then some one of the drove, more frightened

« السابقةمتابعة »