17 NOVEMBER 1855, Page 27


Iffnvismars. is the last new " Territory " of the United States, lying to the West of Wisconsin and the North of Iowa. When Mr. Oliphant last year made his journey through it, from the head of Lake Superior to the banks of the Mississippi, the Territory, ex- cept on the lower part of those banks, was in a primitive condi- tion enough. Our author and his party had to make their way up and down streams of difficult navigation, and through rice swamps, where mud and rank vegetation continually impeded the paddles. Sometimes for days together they were in total soli- tude and almost total silence. During the whole of their voyage up the St. Louis, after leaving Fond du Lac, they only saw one Indian wigwam. On quitting the St. Louis to make their way across the watershed whose stremalets on one side flow down the St. Lawrence into the Atlantic and on the other side to the Gulf of Mexico, they met one solitary Indian. Animal life was almost as scarce. No fish in the waters, no animals on the land, no birds in the air—at least they saw, and what was worse, got none. Yet, such is the progress in Western America, that probably by this time the hardy pioneers of settlement are making their way through this solitary region, " locating" upon its most tempting spots, and possibly laying out a city. In this region of energy, enterprise, speculation, and smartness, cities spring up in a few years. St. Peter's on the Mississippi, the principal town of Minnesota, con- sisted in 1849 of " half-a-dozen log-huts, an hotel, a couple of stores, a log Roman Catholic chapel, and about 150 inhabitants." See the change in five years.

"There are now four daily, four weekly, and two tri-weekly papers, which is pretty well for a Far West town only five years old, and more than Man- chester and Liverpool put together. There are four or five hotels, and at least half-a-dozen handsome churches, with tall spires pointing heavenward, and sundry meeting-houses, and a population of seven or eight thousand to go to them, and good streets with side-walks, and lofty brick warehouses, and stores, and shops, as well supplied as any in the Union ; and 'an academy of the highest grade for young ladies' ; and wharves at which upwards of three hundred steamers arrive annually, bringing newsettlers to this favoured land, and carrying away its produce to the South and East."

Various circumstances conduce to this rapid progress. The mental habits of the people have a good deal to do with it, and the great facilities of locomotion. The large number of emigrants, who having once made np their minds to leave their native land, readily fall into the fashion of their new country, and go in the direction where land is cheapest and labour is said to be in the greatest demand, contribute to people a district rapidly. The law, moreover, tempts to this settlement of the wilderness, by the advantages it holds out to industry and enterprise with little means.

"The 'way in which wild land is settled in the States is worthy of notice. The pioneers of civilization without capital to purchase land, go to those distant parts where they are at liberty to 'squat, without any payment. A short residence of a month or two on a piece of land is sufficient to give a man a preemptive claim to it at any future period ; so that when it is sur- veyed and put up for sale by the Government, he is entitled to buy it at the fixed price of a dollar and a quarter the acre, thereby getting the advantage of his own improvement. He may then actually sell the land at five or six times this rate, and, paying the Government the amount due, pocket the difference, and make tracts' to wild lands further West, and repeat the process there. Thus there is always a great deal of settled land beyond that which is actually surveyed and available for purchase at land-offices. There are about twenty millions of acres open for this sort of settlement in Min- nesota, and the emigrant has free choice to go and take possession of any location that suits his fancy, without asking permission, or being called upon to pay a farthing to anybody."

It is possible there is another side if we could but see it,—baffled hopes, prostration by sickness, family suffering, unaided or solitary death. There is, too, the risk of ruin through the acts of land- sharks if a person has anything to lose.

The voyage on Lake Superior, and the subsequent journey to the Mississippi and down that river as far as Dubuque, are the freshest and most interesting portions of Minnesota. The journey itself is fall of difficulty and variety. In the course of it Mr. Oliphant saw settlements growing under his very eyes. He was occasionally well situated to get at Western ideas and opinions re- lating to slavery, annexation, the Russian war, and things in general. The manner in which he represents the discourses that took place has too much of artificial air and forced ani- mation to carry absolute conviction. The conclusion would be that public immorality is universal, but the particular mode varies according to the interests or party of the speaker. The South or West would not annex Canada, because it would in- crease the power of the Anti-Slavery party ; the Northern and Eastern people are opposed to the annexation of Cuba, as it would strengthen the Slaveholding interest ; but they long for Canada.

* Minnesota and the Far West. ]By Laurence Oliphant, Esq., late Civil Secretary and Superintendent-General of In Affairs in Canada; Author of "The Russian Shores of the Black Sea," ha. P Wished by Blackwood and Sons.

Nearly everywhere Mr. Oliphant found not good wishes towards this country, and ill wishes for the success of the Allies in the Crimea. Here is the strongest specimen, from conversations in the hotel at St. Paul's.

"If I turn to Colonel Brown of the Texan Rangers, and ask him whe- ther he would like to annex Canada, he growls out in his forcible manner, Jest as soon annex mentioning those regions which, to judge from their frequent recurrence in his conversation, are ever uppermost in his mind. If, on the other hand, I suggest to my Massachusetts friend the propriety of

annexing Cuba, he says blandly, now, mister, we opine down-east that such an act would call down upon our country the wrath of this world and the vengeance of the other; and all I can say is, that if our President and his Government,—and packof 'em don't make up into one old woman I'd own as a relation,—commit such a blamenation piece of injustice, Pd like to see the price of the unhappy niggers in that island paid for in blood tea times over, rather than let it fall into the hands of a parcel of blood-sucking, nigger- driving Southerners, whose existence I esteem the greatest blot upon fair creation. Annex Cuba ! No, time.'

"But though Colonel Brown considers that it would be the height of injus- tice to annex Canada, he maintains that his Government is bound by every

obli divine, gation, moral and divine to appropriate Cuba ; and he says that the pro- posal of Spain to emancipate the slaves in that island calls for immediate intervention on the part of his Government, upon which he heaps the vilest epithets, to ward off a blow which so seriously menaces liberty generally, and that glorious institution in particular upon which its existence depends. And as he delivers himself of these sentiments with great volubility—for he has extracted his plug from his left cheek to secure greater freedom of utter- ance, and it is firmly clutched between the fingers of his outstretched hand —he glares savagely at the former speaker, winds up by calling him a squash-headed, cent-shaving, whitlin-o-nothin Yankee, and flips his quid into the middle of the street as a mark of supreme contempt. "The Yankee is cowed for the moment, but informs me, in an under tone, that though to annex Cuba would be to commit murder and robbery in their most aggravated forms, to incite Canadians to rebellion would be to perform a holy duty towards an oppressed and enslaved people, and that he hopes to see the day when there will not be an acre of the North American continent

owned by a British subject. * •

" To return, however, to the tobacco-consuming group in front of the hotel, there is one point upon which they are universally agreed—indeed, through- out the West, public opinion seemed unanimous in its expression of an earnest desire to see the Allied armies defeated in the Crimea. * • * " It may be interesting to observe from this conversation, that in the New World we are still considered 'knaves,' while in the Old we are fast losing our perfidious character for one less complimentary to our national intelli- gence. I should, however, be giving an erroneous impression of public opinion in America if I did not allude to the small sections of some of the communities in the Eastern cities who profess to sympathize with the Western Powers ; except, however, in Washington, Philadelphia, New York, or Boston, I never heard a soul express any other than the sentiments of the gallant Colonel. Any efforts to enlist Americans for the war will not improve this feeling, and it is most earnestly to be hoped that so impolitic a step will not be taken ; one which, while it will give much dissatisfaction to the Americans, will not serve any good purpose to ourselves. For when a man becomes too great a blackguard to live in America, he is not likely to improve the morale of the British army."

Mr. Oliphant's route from Superior Southwards was preceded by a journey from Portland on the Atlantic, a growing rival to Boston, by the new railways to Quebec, and thence through some unsettled parts of Upper Canada. Even in the British settlements change is so rapid in the New World that a few years makes a considerable difference in a country, especially since the establish- ment of responsible government. This newness of matter is re- flected in Mr. Oliphant's pages ; but a large part of the earlier sec- tions is not very new in substance. Either this fact, or the piecemeal publication in Blackwood's Magazine, has induced a tendency to aim at effect by the ars scribendi, which gives a superficial if not an unreal character to much of the book. We think, too, that the author's ideas upon Russian aggression have been somewhat modi- fied since he wrote on "the Russian Shores of the Black Sea.nt

t Spectator for 1853. page 1066.