From the desk of Jeff Martin
The river of the west: life and adventure in the Rocky Mountains and Oregon
By: Frances Fuller Victor, 1826-1902
Hartford, Conn: Columbian Book Company
Publication Date: 1870
“Mr. Meek was born in Washington Co., Virginia, in 1810, one year before the settlement of Astoria, and at a period when Congress was much interested in the question of our Western possessions and their boundary. ” Manifest destiny” seemed to have raised him up, together with many others, bold, hardy, and fearless men, to become sentinels on the outposts of civilization, securing to the United States with comparative ease a vast extent of territory, for which, without them, a long struggle with England would have taken place, delaying the settlement of the Pacific Coast for many years, if not losing it to us altogether. It is not without a feeling of genuine self-congratulation, that I am able to bear testimony to the services, hitherto hardly recognized, of the “mountain-men” who have settled in Oregon.. Whenever there shall arise a studious and faithful historian, their names shall not be excluded from honorable mention, nor least illustrious will appear that of Joseph L. Meek, the Rocky Mountain Hunter and Trapper.”
“SUNSET AT THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA..
There sinks the sun; like cavalier of old,
Servant of crafty Spain,
He flaunts his banner, barred with blood and gold,
Wide o’er the western main ;
A thousand spear heads glint beyond the trees
In columns bright and long,
While kindling fancy hears upon the breeze
The swell of shout and song.
And yet not here Spain’s gay, adventurous host
Dipped sword or planted cross;
The treasures guarded by this rock-bound coast
Counted them gain nor loss.
The blue Columbia, sired by the eternal hills
And wedded with the sea,
O’er golden sands, tithes from a thousand rills,
Rolled in lone majesty-
Through deep ravine, through burning, barren plain,
Through wild and rocky strait,
Through forest dark, and mountain rent in twain
Toward the sunset gate;
While curious eyes, keen with the lust of gold,
Caught not the informing gleam,
These mighty breakers age on age have rolled
To meet this mighty stream.
Age after age these noble hills have kept,
The same majestic lines;
Age after age the horizon’s edge been swept
By fringe of pointed pines.
Summers and Winters circling came and went,
Bringing no change of scene;
Unresting, and unhasting, and unspent,
Dwelt Nature here serene!
Till God’s own time to plant of Freedom’s seed,
In this selected soil ;
Denied forever unto blood and greed,
But blest to honest toil.
There sinks the sun; Gay cavalier no more
His banners trail the sea,
And all his legions shining on the shore
Fade into mystery.
The swelling tide laps on the shingly beach,
Like any starving thing;
And hungry breakers, white with wrath, upreach,
In a vain clamoring.
The shadows fall; just level with mine eye
Sweet Hesper stands and shines,
And shines beneath an arc of golden sky,
Pinked round with pointed pines.
A noble scene! all breadth, deep tone, and power,
Suggesting glorious themes;
Shaming the idler who would fill the hour
With unsubstantial dreams.
Be mine the dreams prophetic, shadowing forth
The things that yet shall be,
When through this gate the treasures of the North
Flow outward to the sea.”
Excerpt by Frances Fuller Victor