THE ORIENTAL SCIENTIFIC MOVEMENT AND AMERICAN DISCOVERIES
Lakes Tasodiac and Crooked were visited in turn. A little beyond the latter, the Mississippi divides into two branches or forks. The guide took Schoolcraft up the eastern, and after crossing Lakes Marquette, La Salle, and Kubbakanna, he came to the mouth of the Naiwa, the chief tributary of this branch of the Mississippi. Finally, after passing the little lake called Usawa, the expedition reached Lake Itasca, whence issues the Itascan, or western branch of the Mississippi.
Lake Itasca, or Deer Lake, as the French call it, is only seven or eight miles in extent, and is surrounded by hills clothed with dark pine woods. According to Schoolcraft it is some 1500 feet above the sea level; but we must not attach too much importance to this estimate, as the leader of the expedition had no instruments.
On their way back to Lake Cass, the party followed the western branch, identifying its chief tributaries. Schoolcraft then studied the ways of the Indians frequenting these districts, and made treaties with them.
To sum up, the aim of the government was achieved, and the Mississippi had been explored from its mouth to its source. The expedition had collected a vast number of interesting details on the manners, customs, history, and language of the people, as well as numerous new or little known species of flora and fauna.
The people of the United States were not content with these official expeditions, and numbers of trappers threw themselves into the new districts. Most of them being however absolutely illiterate, they could not turn their discoveries to scientific account. But this was not the case with James Pattie, who has published an account of his romantic adventures and perilous trips in the district between New Mexico and New California.
On his way down the River Gila to its mouth, Pattie visited races then all but unknown, including the Yotans, Eiotaws, Papawans, Mokees, Umeas, Mohawas, and Nabahoes, with whom but very little intercourse had yet been held. On the banks of the Rio Eiotario he discovered ruins of ancient monuments, stone walls, moats, and potteries, and in the neighbouring mountains he found copper, lead, and silver mines.
We owe a curious travelling journal also to Doctor Willard, who, during a stay of three years in Mexico, explored the Rio del Norte from its source to its mouth.
Lastly, in 1831 Captain Wyeth and his brother explored Oregon, and the neighbouring districts of the Rocky Mountains.
After Humboldt's journey in Mexico, one explorer succeeded another in Central America. In 1787, Bernasconi discovered the now famous ruins of Palenque. In 1822, Antonio del Rio gave a detailed description of them, illustrated with drawings by Frederick Waldeck, the future explorer of Palenque, that city of the dead.
Between 1805 and 1807, three journeys were successively taken in the province of Chiapa and to Palenque by Captain William Dupaix and the draughtsman Castañeda, and the result of their researches appeared in 1830 in the form of a magnificent work, with illustrations by Augustine Aglio, executed at the expense of Lord Kingsborough.
Lastly, Waldeck spent the years 1832 and 1833 at Palenque, searching the ruins, making plans, sections, and elevations of the monuments, trying to decipher the hitherto unexplained hieroglyphics with which they are covered, and collecting a vast amount of quite new information alike on the natural history of the country and the manners and customs of the inhabitants.
We must also name Don Juan Galindo, a Spanish colonel, who explored Palenque, Utatlan, Copan, and other cities buried in the heart of tropical forests.
|View of the Pyramid of Xochicalco.
(Fac-simile of early engraving.)
After the long stay made by Humboldt in equinoctial America, the impulse his explorations would doubtless otherwise have given to geographical science was strangely checked by the struggle of the Spanish colonies with the mother country. As soon, however, as the native governments attained to at least a semblance of stability, intrepid explorers rushed to examine this world, so new in the truest sense, for the jealousy of the Spanish had hitherto kept it closed to the investigations of scientific men.
Many naturalists and engineers now travelled or settled in South America. Soon indeed, that is in 1817-1820, the Austrian and Bavarian Governments sent out a scientific expedition, to the command of which they appointed Doctors Spix and Martins, who collected a great deal of information on the botany, ethnography, and geography of these hitherto little known districts—Martins publishing, at the expense of the Austrian and Bavarian governments, a most important work on the flora of the country, which may be looked upon as a model of its kind.
At the same time the editors of special publications, such as Malte Brun's Annales des Voyages and the Bulletin de la Société de Géographie, cordially accepted and published all the communications addressed to them, including many on Brazil and the province of Minas Geraës.
About this period too a Prussian Major-General, the Prince of Wied-Neuwied, who had been at leisure since the peace of 1815, devoted himself to the study of natural science, geography, and history, undertaking moreover, in company with the naturalists Freirciss and Sellow, an exploring expedition in the interior of Brazil, having special reference to its flora and fauna.